What is a Retainer?

by | Mar 1, 2022 | Dental Care

Just the thought of getting your braces off is super exciting! You’ll get to see what your new smile looks like! If you’re getting your braces off soon, your orthodontist may have recommended a retainer. What is a retainer and how can it help your teeth? Let’s talk about the different types of retainers and what they can do for your new smile.

What Does a Retainer Do?

Many people think that the day when they get their braces off is the end of their orthodontic treatment. While that is true to some extent, it’s important to maintain the changes that have been made, which is why orthodontists typically recommend that you get fitted for a retainer.

A retainer is important, especially during the first year after braces, because your teeth have just come into place so they can still be prone to shifting. You wouldn’t want them to go right back to where they were after all that hard work! A retainer helps to keep your teeth in alignment until they are fully settled.

Two Types of Retainers

Now that we’ve talked about the answer to the question, “What is a retainer?” let’s talk about the different types to help you decide which is right for you. In general, there are two types: fixed retainers and removable retainers. It’s normal for your orthodontist to recommend one type for your top teeth and a different type for your bottom teeth.

A fixed retainer has the advantage of being fixed in place, similar to braces, except that it is hidden on the inside of your teeth where your tongue rests so it will not be visible when you smile. It is also a lot slimmer than braces, so once your orthodontist installs it, it’s easy to forget that it’s even there.

Removable retainers have the advantage of being removable for when you eat or brush and floss your teeth, which can sound like a welcome change after months of braces being attached to your teeth! However, it’s not uncommon for removable retainers to be lost while not being worn, and they can be costly to replace. It’s also important to wear your retainer for at least 22 hours each day for the first several months after you get your braces off, and that can be easy to forget. Not wearing your retainer for the recommended time can put your teeth at risk of shifting back into their old positions.

Ask Your Orthodontist

If you want a more detailed answer to the question, “What is a retainer?” then it can be helpful to ask your orthodontist to show you what the different types of retainers look like during your next appointment. Your orthodontist can help you decide the type that will best suit your lifestyle and orthodontic needs to ensure that your new smile is comfortable and protected.

Call our El Paso Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.

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