Post treatment care
One day in the not-too-distant future, your braces will come off. In a few moments, you'll be free of bands and brackets, able to eat what you want and run your tongue over smooth, clean teeth. But, even on this happy occasion, please remember that you're not quite done with orthodontic treatment yet: The next phase, called retention, is just beginning.
What is the retention phase?
Retention is a critical follow-through stage that typically involves wearing an orthodontic appliance called a retainer. Several different kinds of retainers are available, all of which are custom-made just for you. We will recommend the type (or types) that will work best in your situation, and we'll tell you exactly when and how long you need to wear them.
Teeth aren't set rigidly in the jawbone — instead, they're held in place by a network of fibers called the periodontal ligaments. After they have being moved, it takes several months for the periodontal ligament to adjust to the new position. So if you want to keep that new smile — and not waste all the time, effort, and money it took to get it — it's essential to wear your retainer as directed.
Three types of retainers
The Hawley retainer, one of the most common types, is a removable retainer made of a combination of metal wires and sturdy acrylic, and is designed to keep your teeth in place. This retainer is specially made from impressions of your teeth so that it fits snugly and comfortably in the roof of your mouth, while any wire or acrylic framing keeps your teeth in perfect position. The acrylic can also be personalized with a large number of colors and/or patterns.
A fixed retainer is cemented directly to the inside surface of your lower canines (eye teeth). This is one of the best ways to prevent your lower teeth from shifting as it is permanently attached! As with removable retainers, it is important to keep them clean. When brushing, carefully clean the inside of your lower teeth as well as the wire.
The Essix retainer is a clear removable retainer that fits over the entire arch of teeth. Essix retainers have no metal wires and are virtually invisible. They are very durable, inexpensive and easy to wear.
Getting used to your retainer
After a short time, most people adjust quite well to wearing a retainer. Some may find that they produce more saliva than usual for a day or so after first wearing any type of retainer — a normal reaction to a foreign object in the mouth. You may also find it a little harder to talk normally at first, but that problem will soon disappear. Of course, removable retainers should always be taken out when you eat or brush your teeth — a big change from braces!
At first, you will probably be told to wear your removable retainer all day, every day. This period of 24/7 retainer use generally lasts from several months to a year. Later, we may say that it's OK to wear it only at night. Finally, you'll probably need to put it on just a few nights a week.
Looking after your retainers
To stay fresh and germ-free, all retainers need proper cleaning. A Hawley-type retainer can be brushed gently with a regular toothbrush — but a brush may scratch the clear aligner types. Denture cleaners, in powder or tablet form, as well as special retainer cleaners, can be used to clean most removable retainers. Fixed retainers are cleaned by brushing and flossing; a floss threader or interproximal brush can also be a helpful cleaning tool when needed.
Finally, remember to always carry — and use — a retainer case. You'd be surprised how many retainers end up folded in a napkin and accidentally discarded! Also, don't expose your retainer to excess heat by washing it in very hot water or leaving it on a heater: That can cause the retainer to warp and make it unusable. With proper care and conscientious use, a retainer can help you transition from braces to a permanent, healthy smile.
Lifetime retainer program
Did you know, if you don't wear your retainer, your teeth will continue to shift throughout your life. Wearing your retainer is an essential part of ensuring that you enjoy a long lasting, beautiful smile. Because we are so committed to giving our patients amazing smiles that last a lifetime, we offer a Lifetime Retainer Program. This program helps to keep you from ever needing to replace retainers at full price.
For $800 you can enroll in our Lifetime Retainer Program, which will allow you to have your retainers replaced at any time for a small co-payment: $40 per set for clear retainers - this would normally be $600 per set. Included with the program is a FREE 3D scan of your teeth after braces are removed to make all future retainers from. The Lifetime Retainer Program fees are non-refundable or transferable. We offer two convenient ways for payment; One-time payment of $800 or 18 Monthly Payments of $50.
This program isn't just for patients that we've treated with braces or Invisalign. If you've had braces in the past and would like to enroll in the program, please contact our office at 813-645-4377 today to schedule your FREE 3D scan.
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