The day that you get your braces off is a very exciting day that you have no doubt looked forward to since you got your braces put on. With the removal of braces comes the introduction of a different type of orthodontic treatment that you are unfamiliar with, however. While retainers are easier to care for than braces, there are a few things that you should know before getting yours.

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1. Retainers Help Keep Your Teeth in Their New Positions

Your teeth do not stabilize in their new positions for several months to a year after braces have been removed. The bone and ligament that anchors teeth to the jaw must grow and mature, and retainers help your teeth remain in the desired position during this process. They also protect the teeth from trauma, so that they do not get forcefully moved while in this vulnerable state.

2. There Are a Few Types of Retainers

There are three main types: Hawley, Essix, and permanent. Hawley retainers are the removable retainers that are made of wire and plastic and are molded to fit inside of your mouth. Essix retainers are clear, removable, and fit completely over your teeth. Permanent retainers are glued to the back of your teeth, so they are hidden, but not removable. Your orthodontist may try more than one type to find the most effective style.

3. Your Teeth Will Always Move

While teeth shift less after they have been allowed to stabilize, they are still capable of shifting positions at any time. Most often, teeth begin to shift back to their original positions when retainer instructions are not followed properly. This can even happen years after braces have been removed. The lips, tongue, and cheeks also work to keep the teeth in place. However, as the positions of these features change, the teeth positions can change.

4. Your Retainer Might Take Some Getting Used To

Hawley retainers are very noticeable and may make you lisp at first. Essix retainers don’t allow your teeth to touch as they naturally would, so the retainer may feel very strange at first. Permanent retainers may be difficult to floss and may feel uncomfortable on your tongue, requiring dental wax to ease discomfort. The process of getting used to a retainer is worth it, though, as it helps to preserve the work that your braces have done to align your teeth and give you a beautiful smile.

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So it’s almost time to get your braces off. Congratulations! As you approach braces removal, it’s time to consider your choice of retainer. There are a few different types of retainers that are available to Orlando braces patients. Each of these types has its advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, certain types of retainers may be better-suited for patients with different lifestyles. Before the big day arrives, take some time to speak with your orthodontist about the different types of retainers and which one will work best for you.

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Removable vs. Fixed Retainers

The first consideration when looking into retainers is to consider whether you want a removable retainer or a fixed retainer. As indicated by the name, a removable retainer is similar to a mouthpiece and can be taken out and put back in at any time. Depending on the type, removable retainers are typically made with acrylic, plastic and/or metal. Removable retainers are the most common types of retainer. Fixed retainers, also called permanent retainers, are attached along the back of the teeth and remain in that position until removed by the orthodontist.

Types of Removable Retainers

There are two primary types of removable retainers: Hawley retainers and clear retainers, which are also referred to as Essix retainers. Orlando braces patients who want a removable retainer should schedule an orthodontic consultation to discuss which type of removable retainer may be best for them.

Hawley Retainers

Hawley retainers are the most common type of retainer. They are made from acrylic that is molded to fit across the roof of the patient’s mouth and along the back of the bottom teeth. They also feature metal clasps that fasten snugly around the teeth, with a metal wire that runs across the front of the teeth.

Clear Retainers

Clear retainers are similar to the Invisalign invisible braces system. They are also referred to as Essix retainers, after one of the brands of this type of retainer. Clear retainers are made from a thin, transparent type of plastic that is vacuum-formed to the teeth. As a result, they resemble mouth guards. Clear retainers have the obvious benefit of being less visible to others than Hawley retainers. However, they may be less durable. They are therefore not recommended for braces patients with certain conditions, such as teeth grinding.

Fixed Retainers

Fixed retainers may be recommended for those who have a higher risk of their teeth shifting back into their original positions. The orthodontist may recommended that a fixed retainer is kept in place for several months after the braces are removed, or even for the duration of the patient’s life. The main advantage for fixed retainers is that patients do not need to worry about forgetting to put their retainer in. However, they may be more difficult to clean, as patients will need to make sure they’re removing all food particles and buildup that may get trapped underneath or behind the wires.

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