It’s always exciting for our patients the day they come in to finally get their braces removed and it can be a little shocking at times to find out they still need to wear a retainer.

The question we get asked as orthodontists is usually:

“If my teeth are straight, why do I have to wear a retainer?”

Well retainers are considered part of the program because to maintain your beautifully straight teeth, your gums and jaw still needs to properly set the new arrangement in place. Bear in mind that your smile has likely been misaligned for a large slice of your life, so to correct the teeth properly it may take a little longer than your braces treatment alone.

Here at Dream Smiles Orthodontics located in Brisbane suburbs of Sunnybank and Morningside, we’re committed to bringing our patients the highest levels of understanding and care when it comes to orthodontic treatment from braces to retainers. Find out what types of retainers you can have and how your retainer can benefit you today with our helpful list of frequently asked questions.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is a device used to help maintain the alignment and shape of your newly altered smile. Just like braces, dentures and other dental treatments, retainers are specifically designed to fit the individual patient and must be fit by a trained orthodontist.

Why do I need one?

You’ve been hanging out to get your braces removed since the day our orthodontist put them on you so we understand that it’s tempting not to wear your retainer after your treatment, but if you want to keep your beautifully straight smile, it’s necessary you strictly follow your orthodontist’s specific instructions.

This is because when your braces are removed, your teeth naturally want to return to the position they had been in for so many years. In an effort to stop this from happening, our orthodontic professional will issue you with the appropriate type of retainer for your treatment plan.

Is there only one type of retainer?

Some retainers are permanent and some are temporary depending on the treatment needed for the patient. There are three general types of retainers:

  • Hawley retainers – made out of metal and acrylic materials, these retainers run along the front of the teeth but are not bonded to the teeth like braces. They have an acrylic mold; custom designed to fit comfortably inside the mouth. This retainer is adjustable in case your orthodontist needs to further correct anything.
  • Essix retainers – this retainer is fabricated from a clear plastic and has an aligner tray design; much like the type used for Invisalign braces.  Generally this type is the more favourable retainer because it is less noticeable than a Hawley retainer but because your teeth can’t touch naturally, it may not be the best retention method for the patient.
  • Permanent retainers – these are bonded to the back of the teeth and fixed to give the patient a permanent solution to the patient’s alignment and bite. It doesn’t necessarily have to be permanent though, your dentist may start with this type of retainer then switch to a different type.

How do I keep my retainer clean?

Using a tooth brush, your retainer (if removable) should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water. It’s important to double check with your orthodontist what cleaning products can be used because rough cleaning product could be harmful to the retainer or your oral health.

For your actual teeth just follow your regular cleaning habits of brushing twice and flossing. If your retainer is fixed it may need extra care when flossing.

How often will I need to see my orthodontist about my retainer?

It’s important our patients return for their follow-up appointments. These will be organised 2 months, 6 months and 12 months after your braces as a warranty for the patient. Your appointments don’t include regular cleaning but if you have private health cover, you can get your retainer cleaning bulk billed.

Wearing retainers are a fundamental stage for your orthodontic treatment. If you’re concerned about your retainer options or curious about how we can offer you a lifetime of straight and beautiful smiles with a range of orthodontic treatments, book a consultation with Dream Smile Orthodontics. Located in both Sunnybank and Morningside Brisbane suburbs, you may be only one treatment plan away from your perfect smile today!