Exploring Orthodontic Retainers

Explorin Orthodontic Retainers

You’ll often hear the word “retainer” when looking for an orthodontist. What is a retainer, though, and how is it used in orthodontics? Quite simply, a retainer is a type of oral appliance that can have many orthodontic applications. Below are some types of retainers and how they help correct bites, improve oral health, and lead the way to straighter, more confident smiles. 

A Basic Description of a Retainer 

 Regardless of the material it’s made from or how it’s used, every retainer covers some part of the teeth. The main purpose of a retainer is to either straighten the teeth by gradually causing them to move or to keep the teeth straight by keeping them from shifting, drifting, and twisting. 

As you might imagine, retainers are highly useful if you’re trying to correct any kind of smile imperfection. However, not all retainers are used in all situations. There are very specific kinds of retainers that orthodontists depend upon based on patients’ unique cases and desired results. 

Common Forms of Retainers Used in Orthodontic Treatments  

 After coming to an orthodontist for your initial consultation, the doctor may discuss various retainer options as part of your recommended orthodontic treatment plan. 

Clear Retainers: These retainers may also be called “invisible retainer.” Because they’re made from a safe, medical-grade hard plastic material, they tend to blend in with the rest of your teeth and smile. Clear retainers are used with the Invisalign system to move the teeth into more natural positions without the need for metal or ceramic brackets or wires. Clear retainers may also be used as a type of retainer after braces that need to be worn all day or only at night to ensure that corrected teeth stay aligned. 

 Metal Retainer: A metal retainer is a more traditional type of retainer that’s useful after orthodontic treatment has ended. Metal retainers have metal and plastic components and are custom-designed to fit over the wearer’s teeth. Again, they may be suitable for wearing all day or just at night, as suggested by the orthodontist. 

Are Retainers Necessary for Straight Smiles?

Many assume that after undergoing orthodontic treatment, they’ll have a perfect smile forever. Unfortunately, teeth can start to shift out of place again. This is why many adults with clear or metal braces as teenagers undergo orthodontic treatment again to resolve new issues like tooth crowding, tooth gaps, or misaligned bites. It is very important that if you or your child undergoes orthodontic treatment, you are dedicated to wearing a retainer afterward.  

It’s important to wear a retainer after orthodontic treatment to maintain a straight smile. Here are some reasons why: 

  • Teeth can shift out of place again 
  • Retainers help keep teeth in their corrected positions 
  • Wearing a retainer is a long-term investment in your smile 
  • Retainers prevent the need for future orthodontic treatment. 

Caring for Clear and Metal Retainers

No matter what type of retainer you use for your orthodontic treatment, you’ll want to ensure it’s safely maintained and stored. Follow all the directions as outlined by your orthodontic team, such as using a toothbrush and toothpaste to scrub away any debris or residue before putting away your retainer in its case. If undergoing Invisalign treatment, you should carry your retainer case because you’ll take your clear retainer out when you eat meals and snacks.  

If you have any problems with your retainer, such as breakage or a suddenly poor fit, you should contact your orthodontist immediately. The orthodontist will be able to see what’s wrong and either adjust the appliance or have a new one created.   

How Much Are Retainers for Orthodontics? 

The exact charge for a retainer will depend on a lot of factors. For instance, retainers used during Invisalign are part of the Invisalign system. They aren’t priced separately. On the other hand, a metal retainer used after a more traditional ceramic or metal brace treatment may be individually priced. It’s best to ask about the cost when you come for your evaluation. 

Ready to talk about orthodontics and retainers with the experts? Contact Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists to arrange the first available appointment for you or your child.