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Treatment with braces or Invisalign will create a beautiful, new smile. Once you have that new smile, you need to maintain it. That’s where your retainers come in. 

At Fergus Orthodontics, we know how hard you’ve worked to make your braces treatment a success. We want you to love your new smile, but we also want you to keep it for a lifetime. That’s why we include retainers as part of your treatment with braces or Invisalign.

You have to care for your retainers properly to make them last. Here are a few tips on how to care for your retainers and use them to save your smile.

Using Orthodontic Retainers After Braces

Why do you need retainers after braces? Your teeth have spent months being moved by gentle pressure from your braces or clear aligners. They’ve learned to keep moving. 

Once they’re in the proper place and your braces are removed, they need to stay put. Retainers prevent further tooth movement. 

Retainers hold your teeth in place until your jaw hardens and holds the teeth in place better. It will take several months for this to happen, so we ask you to wear your retainers for at least 22 hours a day for the first few months after braces. 

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Know the Different Types of Retainers

There are several types of retainers, but the three most common are the Hawley retainer, the Essix retainer, and the permanent retainer. 

Hawley Retainers

The Hawley retainer is often what people picture when they hear the word “retainers.” It is made up of hard acrylic that is molded around your lower gums or the roof of your mouth. Wires wrap around your front teeth and keep the teeth from moving. 

Essix Retainers

The Essix retainer looks like a clear aligner and works in a similar way. The clear acrylic retainer is custom-molded to your teeth and slides over them. Unlike clear aligners that apply gentle pressure to move your teeth to the correct position, the clear orthodontic retainer holds your teeth in place. Many patients prefer these aligners because they are virtually invisible on the teeth.

Permanent Retainers

Permanent retainers, also called lingual retainers or fixed retainers, are bonded to the back of your front teeth to keep your teeth aligned. They are essentially a thick wire bonded in place, so they can’t be removed. Patients never have to worry about losing their retainers, but cleaning teeth with permanent retainers can be more difficult. They also aren’t “permanent” — these bonded retainers last about 10-20 years. 

How Long Do Retainers Last?

We know permanent retainers will last long term, but how long will other retainers last? They can last for a long time as long as they’re cared for correctly. 

Hawley retainers can last 3-10 years, depending on whether you take proper care. Clear retainers last about three years before they need to be replaced.

How long do you have to wear a retainer? Ideally, you’ll wear your retainers to maintain your smile for the rest of your life. That can be just overnight, for the most part. 

You must wear your retainers 22 hours a day when you first get them. After some time, usually about six months, you will be allowed to reduce that time to about 8 hours a day. Most people wear their retainers overnight to fulfill that prescription. 

What happens if you don’t wear your retainer? Your teeth will begin to shift out of place. Can retainers move teeth back into place? The answer is no. 

If your teeth shift enough, you will need braces or Invisalign treatment to move them back. It likely won’t be as long as before, but it will be more costly than a retainer. 

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How to Prevent Lost or Damaged Retainers

What do you do if you lose a retainer? What happens if your retainer breaks? The best thing to do is call your orthodontist. 

Fergus Orthodontics includes retainers as part of your braces or Invisalign treatment. This includes follow-up visits with your retainer for the first year. 

After the second year, we charge a small fee to repair broken retainers. You will have to pay to replace lost retainers. 

The best way to protect your retainers is to store them in the appropriate storage container. We will provide a container, but you can get extra containers at major retail stores or pharmacies. It’s good to have a storage case at home and one you can take with you when you’re out.

Never wrap your retainers in a napkin because they can be thrown away accidentally. Keep retainers out of reach of small children. Keep them away from pets, who will chew or damage the retainers. 

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Caring for Your Retainers and Other Orthodontic FAQs

The best way to make your retainers last is to care for them properly. That means keeping them stored safely in a retainer container, cleaning them regularly, and removing them when you eat so they don’t get damaged. Here are some tips on how to care for your retainers. 

  • Rinse your retainers after removal and before putting them back into your mouth. 
  • Clean retainers with cleansing tablets, clear liquid soap, or baking soda and lukewarm water. Hot water will warp the retainers. Do not use toothpaste because it has particles that can cause microabrasions on your retainers.
  • Store retainers in a retainer storage case whenever they are not in your mouth.
  • Do not keep retainers in a hot car or put them in a dishwasher. Heat can warp and ruin your retainers.
  • Keep your retainers in a safe place out of reach of small children and pets. 

Do Retainers Hurt? 

We are often asked if retainers hurt. They shouldn’t hurt, but if you don’t wear them for a while and then start wearing them again, you may feel a bit of discomfort. This may mean your teeth shifted, and the retainers no longer fit properly. 

Call us if this is the case. We can adjust your retainers and determine whether your teeth have shifted enough for more treatment. 

How Do I Replace a Retainer? 

If your retainer is lost or damaged, call Fergus Orthodontics in Jonesboro, AR, right away. The longer you are without your retainer, the more your teeth can shift. We will do what we can to repair the retainer or replace it right away.

Retainers Near Me in Jonesboro, AR

Fergus Orthodontics wants more than just a successful treatment with braces or Invisalign. We want you to carry that success throughout your lifetime. That’s why we encourage our patients to wear their retainers every day to keep those perfect smiles and why we include retainer costs as part of our treatment plans. You won’t pay extra for your first set of retainers after braces!  

Schedule a free consultation with Fergus Orthodontics in Jonesboro, AR, if you’re ready to reshape your smile! 

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