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About Braces

When braces are finally removed, the “retention” phase begins for most individuals.  The objective of this phase is to ensure the teeth do not regress back to their previous position.  A retainer will be used to maintain the improved position of the teeth.  A retainer is a fixed or removable dental appliance which has been custom-made by Dr. Nakamura to fit the teeth. 

Retainers are worn for varying amounts of time. Immediately after braces have been removed, patients are instructed to wear their retainers on a full time basis (except for eating and tooth brushing). With good consistent wear and stabilization of the teeth, retainer wear can generally be reduced to sleep time after 7-8 months.

What types of retainer are available?

There are a variety of retainers available, each one geared towards treating a different kind of dental problem.  Dr. Nakamura will make a retainer recommendation depending on the nature of the original diagnosis and the orthodontic treatment plan.

The following are some of the most common types of retainers:

  • Traditional Wire Style Retainer – This retainer consists of a metal wire on an acrylic arch.  The metal wire may be periodically adjusted by the orthodontist to ensure the teeth stay in the desired position.  The acrylic arch is designed to fit comfortably on the lingual walls or palate of the mouth.
  • Clear Style Retainer – This retainer is the most commonly used retainer.  A mold is initially made of the teeth in their new alignment, and then clear polyvinyl trays are created to fit over the arch in its entirety.  This type of retainer is more economical than many other types of retainers and also does not affect the aesthetic appearance of the smile in the same way as the wire style retainer. 
  • Bonded Permanent Retainer – A bonded permanent retainer is glued onto the back side of the front teeth.  Usually, a permanent retainer is used in cases where there has been either rapid or substantial movement of the teeth.  It usually consists of a single wire.  The draw backs of a permanent retainer are that it is more difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene and does not stabilize the side and back teeth.

What do I need to consider when using a retainer?

There are a few basic things to consider for proper use and maintenance of your retainer.

Don’t lose the appliance – Removable retainers are very easy to lose.  It is advisable to place your retainer in the case it came in while eating, drinking, and brushing.  Leaving a retainer folded in a napkin at a restaurant or in a public restroom can be very costly if lost because a replacement must be created.  A brightly colored case serves as a great reminder.

Don’t eat while wearing a retainer – It can be difficult and awkward to eat while wearing a removable retainer and it can also damage the appliance.  Foods can get trapped around and beneath the retainers leading to bad breath. 

Clean the retainer properly – Removable retainers can become breeding grounds for tartar and bacteria.  It is essential to clean the inside and outside thoroughly as often as possible.  Traditional wire style and clear style retainers can be cleaned with a toothbrush.  Enzymatic denture cleaners can also be used for removable retainers.

Wear the retainer as directed – This phase of treatment is critical. The hard work has been done; the braces are off, and now it is tempting not to wear the retainer as often as the Dr. Nakamura recommends.  Retainers are needed to give the muscles, tissues, and bones time to stabilize the teeth in their new alignment. Failure to wear the retainer as directed can have regrettable consequences, such as teeth returning to their original position, added expense, and lost time.

If you have any questions or concerns about retainers, please contact our office.


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