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Keep Your ‘Wow! Smile': Why You Should Wear Your Orthodontic Retainers

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For orthodontic patients in Grand Rapids, no day is more exciting than debonding day. After months or years of treatment, they finally get to see that smile they’ve been working so hard to achieve. While it’s fantastic to see the end result, it doesn’t mean the end of treatment. To keep that smile, patients need to wear a retainer. 

At Align Orthodontics in Grand Rapids, a retainer is included in your treatment costs. You receive it as soon as the braces are off, and it must be worn daily for the first few months while your teeth settle into their permanent location. 

There are several types of retainers and reasons why they are essential, and we’re going to give you a few of those answers.

Types of Retainers

People hear the word “retainers” and think of the common Hawley retainers — plastic molded to your palate with wires that wrap around the front of your teeth to hold them in place. That’s one type, but it’s not the only one. There are several types:

  • Permanent retainers - A wire is cemented to the back of the teeth and cannot be removed except by the dentist. The advantage is that it’s always working. The disadvantage is that it’s harder to brush and floss, and having a wire there all the time can cause tongue irritation.
  • Hawley retainers - Possibly the most well-known type, this retainer is custom-molded to your mouth and is removable. It will keep your teeth in place if worn as prescribed. The con is that it can be lost or damaged, and if not cleaned properly, bacteria can develop. The also are more visible than the other types of retainers. 

Plastic retainers - Newer retainers are made of molded acrylic customized to the patient’s teeth, similar to the clear aligners used to straighten teeth. These retainers, such as the Invisalign Vivera, can be removed and cleaned easily. They’re also nearly invisible. The disadvantage is they can be lost or damaged easily.

Why Wear a Retainer?

Why is it so important to wear a retainer? After all, you’ve spent all that time in braces or clear aligners. You deserve a break, right? The reason is simple — you’ve worked so hard to create that “Wow!” smile, you want to keep it as long as possible. That’s why retainers are so important. 

Right after your braces or clear aligners come off, your jaw is still malleable, meaning your teeth can still move. Until your jawbone hardens properly, it’s vital to hold your teeth in place. That’s where the retainer comes in. 

The retainer keeps your teeth in the same position as on debonding day. It must be worn at least 22 hours a day for the first 2-3 months, just to ensure the teeth don’t move. You should only remove them for eating, brushing, and flossing. 

After that, Dr. Majznerski will determine the amount of time you need to wear your retainer daily. Technically, you should wear it for life, but your orthodontist will determine if or when you can stop wearing it.

Getting Your Perfect Retainer

Align Orthodontics has decades of experience with orthodontic care, including Invisalign. If you’re in the Grand Rapids, MI, or West Michigan area, schedule an appointment with us, and Dr. Majznerski can recommend the best retainer for you and get you fitted for the perfect one. He and the Align Orthodontics team want to see you keep that “Wow!” smile for the rest of your life!

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