We are aware of the bad stereotypes surrounding retainers. For decades, people have associated retainers with “being nerds” or a social pariah, especially in youngsters. Unfortunately, even if we live in a more welcoming society, some people are still panicked by the mere thought of using them. Problem is, if we choose not to follow up on an orthodontic treatment, we can seriously harm our oral health.
What are retainers?
First we need to understand what a retainer is. Orthodontic teeth movement is a natural process that happens throughout our lives; it may be due to a growth spurt, the way we eat, chewing gum, sucking our thumb, nail biting or just random chance. The biological process is quite interesting, teeth aren’t “fixed” to the bone, and they are connected by a flexible tissue called the ligament; when we exert pressure on the tooth the ligament reshapes, and the bone naturally adapts and gives way so that the tooth can find its most comfortable shape.
Orthodontists take advantage of this natural process, using it to reshape misaligned teeth. By exerting a controlled light force with a set of braces the tooth naturally moves and repositions itself.
Retainers are the second part of the process; the orthodontic procedure leaves the teeth susceptible to pressure. You need to give the bone time to heal and strengthen so the teeth won’t move again; to achieve it; we fix the tooth in place with the help of removable retainers.
If you don’t use your retainers regularly your teeth may move and end up crooked, losing all that hard work you did until now.
What to do once you have them?
That means that the rest is up to you; for the following months you have to take good care of your smile. Only take off your retainers when you are eating or sleeping, brush daily, and clean your retainers constantly. If you can afford it, always keep a spare in case you lose them. You might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but resist the urge to leave them behind.
A retainer won’t last forever; most people will need to replace their retainers after a year or two; don’t sweat it, you dentist will let know when the time comes. It may seem like a hassle, but honestly, after the first few days, you won’t even feel them at all. The outcome is well worth the effort.
If ever feel pain, or sensitivity while wearing you retainers be sure to get in touch with your dentist right away.