Are you in the final phases of orthodontic treatment?

You’ve spent months, and most likely years, wearing braces or Invisalign. But orthodontic treatment doesn’t end when the braces come off or the clear aligners go away. Next come the retainers, which play a vital role in maintaining your new and beautiful smile.

Hoskinson Orthodontics in Scotia, NY, is here to discuss five reasons why you need to wear retainers after orthodontic treatment. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with our orthodontist, contact us today. Otherwise, let’s get started!

1. Keep Your New Teeth in Position

Although your teeth have moved during orthodontic treatment, they aren’t cemented in place. That’s because the bone and ligaments surrounding your teeth are malleable. Retainers help to hold teeth in place, preventing them from shifting, as these ligaments and bone reform and stabilize.

The bone surrounding your teeth and the ligaments that hold them in place is malleable. Retainers prevent your teeth from shifting and hold them in place as the surrounding ligaments and bone reform and stabilize.

Retainers also allow time for the alveolar bones to harden, better preventing loose teeth and potential tooth loss.

2. Stabilize Your Bite

If teeth aren’t held firmly in their new positions, they will shift back to their old positions. Crooked teeth can then affect a patient’s bite. Otherwise known as malocclusion, a misaligned jaw can change a person’s smile, cause discomfort, and make it difficult to chew.

As the bone and surrounding gum tissue heal after orthodontic treatment, retainers maintain and stabilize the bite by keeping teeth in their new and aligned positions.

Retainers also provide adequate space for when wisdom teeth start to come in. We recommend all of our orthodontic patients have their wisdom teeth removed before they erupt. Unremoved wisdom teeth will eventually cause overcrowded teeth, pain, cysts, tooth damage, and other complications.

3. Improves Oral Hygiene

Misaligned teeth and an improper bite make it difficult to brush and floss behind and between teeth, which can lead to more tooth decay and cavities down the road. Braces and Invisalign not only correct misaligned teeth and malocclusion ‒ but they also make it easier for the patient to maintain good oral hygiene for the rest of their lives.

However, if a patient decides not to wear their retainers, subsequently causing their teeth to shift and become crooked, they are more susceptible to having poor oral hygiene and cavities in the future.

Misaligned teeth can also cause enamel wear, which can lead to teeth sensitivity, discomfort when eating certain foods and drinks, stained teeth, and increased risk of tooth decay.

4. Optimizes Overall Health

A straight smile is a healthy smile, and a healthy smile is a cornerstone to overall health and wellness. But poor oral hygiene not only leads to cavities and tooth decay but can increase the risk of periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that can cause any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Mouth pain
  • Gums that bleed easily after brushing & flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Pus & abscesses in the gumline
  • Receding gum line
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss

Periodontal disease can also contribute to other health-related conditions, such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

Even patients who do wear their retainers run the risk of gum disease if they don’t brush and floss adequately. So, it’s important that ALL patients brush and floss their teeth twice a day and visit the dentist twice a year for a checkup.

5. Reduce Need for Treatment Reversal

Nobody wants to have to go through orthodontic treatment twice. Unfortunately, many patients who don’t wear their retainers wind up having to pay for and endure orthodontic treatment later in life.

The bottom line: A retainer maintains a straight, healthy, and attractive smile. By not wearing a retainer, teeth will shift within a matter of months after orthodontic treatment, altering the smile they worked hard to achieve.

Tips for Wearing & Taking Care of Your Retainers

Our orthodontist recommends our patients wear their retainers in between meals and while they sleep for the first year after completing Invisalign or orthodontic treatment. After that, we recommend our patients wear their retainers at night for life. We understand wearing retainers long-term can be bothersome for some patients, but wearing them at night will maintain your straight and beautiful smile for a lifetime!

Keep your retainers clean. Always rinse them after use and soak them in a cleaning solution for five minutes. Make sure you brush your retainers with a soft-bristled toothbrush under warm water. This will remove debris and minimize bacterial growth.

Whenever you’re not wearing your retainers, keep them protected inside their case. Keep your retainers, as well as the retainer case, away from heat and hot objects to prevent them from melting. Wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth during sports or high-impact activities.

Always remove your retainers before eating. This will prevent wear-and-tear on your retainers and keep food from getting caught in between your teeth.

Schedule an Appointment with Our Orthodontist

Wearing retainers may seem like a burden after years of wearing braces or Invisalign clear aligners ‒ but they are essential to maintaining a straight, healthy, and beautiful smile you don’t want to take for granted.

Do you have questions about wearing retainers or your orthodontic treatment plan? Are you located in Scotia, NY, or Schenectady County and are interested in scheduling a consultation with our orthodontist?

Contact Hoskinson Orthodontics today, or stay tuned to our blog for more tips and information!