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orthodontic aftercare

The magic of orthodontic treatment means that you can achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of. Whether you need fixed metal braces or clear aligners, your treatment will be specially customised to you and your specific needs. 

For some, the thought of going through orthodontic treatment for a long period of time can be daunting, so when you are nearing the end of your treatment, it's easy for the excitement to take hold and finally be able to show your brand-new smile. However, that isn’t always the end of your journey.

You will need to maintain the results. Orthodontic retainers play a pivotal role in preserving your newly achieved smile. The good news is there is often a choice between fixed or removable retainers, depending on the severity of your case and personal preference.

Why Do Our Teeth Move Without Retainers?

It’s a hard truth that our teeth will always try and move after treatment without the use of retainers, due to the forces presented by our cheeks, jaw muscles, and tongue. The outside of our upper teeth arch can contract when our cheeks and jaw muscles contract, which leaves the upper jaw V-shaped and narrower over time. This is why the upper front teeth may start to stick out, go crooked, or overlap.

This means that teeth can never fully set in one position, and it doesn’t matter how long braces are worn, our teeth will always try to revert.

Why do we Need to Wear Retainers After Teeth Straightening Treatment?

It is for this reason that orthodontists strongly advise wearing retainers after teeth straightening treatment, to ensure that after all the hard work and perseverance of getting your teeth straight, your teeth don’t just revert to their original positions, wasting your time and money and that of the company overseeing your treatment.

It would be wonderful to think that after having fixed braces attached to your teeth for 18 months to 2 years, being brace-free and enjoying the foods you love without having to think about braces again would be the immediate next step. Hopefully, your orthodontist will have made this stage in your journey clear, that maintenance is key.

What’s the Difference Between Fixed and Removable Retainers? 

There are two main types of retainers offered to patients after their initial teeth straightening treatment, these are fixed retainers, also known as bonded or lingual retainers, and removable retainers. 

A fixed retainer is made of a fixed wire bonded to the back of your upper or lower front 6 teeth, sometimes it can be placed on the front 4 teeth also. With a fixed retainer there is a chance that you would also need a removable retainer if your orthodontic treatment changed the shape of your tooth arch. 

Removable retainers are made from a rigid BPA-free plastic guard that fits over the top of your teeth, which can be either all plastic or combined plastic and a metal wire. It is recommended to wear them day and night for the 2 to 4 weeks following your initial treatment, only taking them out to eat and brush your teeth. After this, patients can wear them at night only for the following 6 months, then move on to 3 nights a week. However, this sequence is subject to each case.

Pros and Cons of Fixed Retainers 

The permanence of a fixed retainer is one of its main advantages. It is fixed to your teeth, it doesn’t need to be removed or thought about all that much, apart from when cleaning and checking that it is still there and in good working order. On the other hand, this advantage could also create problems with oral hygiene and affect your diet. 

Pros of a Fixed Retainer

  • Continuous Stability - fixed retainers provide constant, round-the-clock support to maintain the alignment of your teeth, ensuring your teeth don't shift back to their pre-treatment positions.
  • Low Maintenance - once installed, fixed retainers require minimal maintenance. Patients don't need to worry about removing, cleaning, and remembering to wear them regularly.
  • Invisible Design - placed behind the teeth, fixed retainers are practically invisible, addressing the cosmetic concerns associated with removable options. 

Cons of a Fixed Retainer

  • Oral Hygiene Challenges - fixed retainers can make oral hygiene more challenging. Thorough cleaning requires special attention to ensure no plaque or debris accumulates around the wire.
  • Speech Adjustment - some patients may experience a brief adjustment period, during which speech may be affected as the tongue adapts to the presence of the retainer.
  • Prone to Breakages – if the fixed retainer breaks even slightly on one tooth, that tooth can move out of place, so it is crucial to ensure that patients check their retainers regularly.
  • Regular Orthodontics Visits – it’s always good to keep up with regular check-ups when going through any sort of orthodontic treatment but even more so with fixed retainers. This is to ensure that the retainer is still working as it should and that your oral hygiene is not compromised.

Pros and Cons of Removable Retainers

The main advantage to removable retainers is in the name, they are removable. You can eat and drink what you like as to do these things, your retainer needs to be removed. On the other hand, this could be a disadvantage to some as the continuous remembering to take your retainer in and out and cleaning your teeth before the retainer is re-inserted can be overwhelming. 

Pros of a Removable Retainer

  • Ease of Cleaning - removable retainers can be easily cleaned, reducing the risk of plaque build-up, and ensuring optimal oral hygiene.
  • Convenience - patients can remove these retainers while eating, making it more comfortable to enjoy meals without restrictions. This feature can be particularly appealing to those who find it challenging to adjust to eating with fixed retainers.
  • Speech Comfort - unlike fixed retainers, removable retainers generally don't impact speech, allowing for a seamless transition post-orthodontic treatment.

Cons of a Removable Retainer

  • Compliance - success with removable retainers relies heavily on patient compliance. For effective results, it's crucial to wear them consistently, as prescribed by your orthodontist.
  • Replacement and Wear - removable retainers may need replacement over time due to wear and tear, approximately twice a year. Additionally, there's a risk of misplacement if not stored properly when removed. 

Care After Teeth Straightening Treatment: Speak to a Specialist Orthodontist in Oldham Today.

The choice you make between a fixed or removable retainer is entirely down to personal preference and some guidance from your orthodontist, depending on the severity of your case. When making this decision you should take into account your budget, lifestyle, and oral hygiene habits.

At Oldham Orthodontics, we understand just how important your smile and oral health is to you. We are your specialists’ orthodontists in Oldham, made up of a team of experts who are highly trained in all forms of orthodontic treatments.  

So, if you would like to speak to our expert orthodontists in Oldham, then get in touch today and book your free consultation.