Questions to Ask Your Dentist When You’re Getting a Retainer

Do you want to know why you need a retainer after your braces are off? Ask your orthodontist these six questions to prepare:

Your braces are finally off. But now you need a retainer to keep your teeth straight.

After years of wearing braces, you’re finally getting the metal wires removed so you can see your new straighter smile. Great! Although you’re happy to be done with orthodontic work, you may not be as thrilled to hear that the next step is getting a retainer.

In many ways, a retainer is just as crucial in maintaining your teeth in alignment as braces. Before you get your retainer, prep yourself for this next stage by asking your dentist these questions.

Six questions to ask before getting a retainer

Below, we’ve pulled together six questions you can ask your dentist that highlight the importance of wearing a retainer.

Why do I need to wear a retainer? Once the braces are off, teeth tend to shift back into their original crooked or misaligned positions. And you don’t want that! A retainer ensures your teeth remain in proper alignment long after the braces are removed.

What types of retainers will I need? Retainers come in three types. Fixed or bonded retainers are permanently attached to your lower teeth. Bonded retainers cannot be removed and are usually reserved for people whose teeth are at high risk of moving out of place again. Made of molded acrylic to fit your mouth with wires holding it in place, Hawley retainers can be removed for eating and cleaning. Clear plastic retainers are also removable. Although they look similar to Invisalign, clear plastic retainers do not straighten teeth. Their purpose is to keep teeth in alignment. Your orthodontist will decide which type is best for you. 

How long will I wear the retainer? Depending upon your case, you’ll need to wear your removable retainer 24/7 for anywhere from three to 12 months. After that, you’ll put in your removable retainer only at night. A permanent retainer will be worn indefinitely. Although wearing a retainer may be a minor inconvenience, keeping your beautiful smile is well worth it. 

What happens if I don’t wear my retainer? As mentioned, your teeth may revert to their original positions without a retainer. It may not happen overnight, but after many years of not wearing your retainer, you may need braces again. Even if you skip wearing your retainer for a few months, your teeth may shift out of place, and you’ll need a new retainer.

How do I care for my retainer? A retainer can attract bacteria, plaque, and tartar just like your teeth. So proper cleaning is a must if you want to prevent decay and gum disease. If you have a removable retainer, the best method is to rinse the device with warm water after you eat to remove food particles. Soak the retainer in mild dish soap with warm water or a cleanser specifically made for retainers for a deeper clean. Brush with a soft toothbrush. Since toothpaste can be abrasive, ask your dentist to recommend a toothpaste less harsh to the retainer. Never use hot water on the retainer, as it can corrode the device. With the retainer off, brush and floss as you usually would. 

Cleaning with a fixed retainer is trickier, but it can be done. To floss with a fixed retainer, thread the floss under the retainer wire using a floss threader. Then, slide the floss between the teeth up to the gumline. Repeat until you’ve flossed all the teeth attached to the retainer.

How do I care for my teeth while wearing a retainer? Regular brushing and flossing keep your teeth free of harmful bacteria, which is good for your teeth and overall health. And don’t forget your twice-yearly dental cleanings. Once your teeth are straight, you’ll want to keep them healthy, too.

Your dental care professionals in Mission Valley

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Mission Valley, California, location today! Our highly trained dentists and orthodontists can care for all your orthodontic needs. Don’t live near our Mission Valley, CA, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Mission Valley, CA
8989 Rio San Diego Drive
Suite 170
San Diego, CA 92108