If you've heard that retainers are used after having braces, you might have some questions. While some people think that continuing to use retainers after having braces sounds like a bad thing, it's actually a great thing. Here's why retainers will provide you with benefits for years to come following your braces treatments:

What it Is

If you haven't seen one before, retainers come in multiple shapes and sizes. It depends on your personal needs and what your orthodontist specializes in.

Some retainers are made of resin and metal. These typically use metal brackets to stay on your teeth and may occasionally need to be adjusted. This is just to ensure that the metal wires stay snug and fitting properly.

Another popular type of retainer is one that looks very similar to invisible braces. A thin layer of plastic encases the teeth on all sides. These are popular not only because they're comfortable, but because they're barely visible on your teeth, which is great if you need to wear it during the day.

What It Prevents

Braces can correct a bite and straighten teeth, but once the braces come off, the teeth are essentially on their own. Unfortunately, all forms of pressure can potentially cause problems for your teeth.

Something as simple as your tongue pressing against your teeth every day can start to shift them out of position. It won't happen overnight, but in time, without further treatment, you could find that your teeth look crooked again.

Retainers also help to combat the effects of bad habits. While you shouldn't be biting your nails or doing anything that could make your teeth go out of alignment, retainers can help to prevent your teeth from permanently shifting from these habits. In a sense, when you bite your nails, the pressure is making a micro-adjustment to your teeth that's likely pushing them out of position. By wearing your retainer, you ensure that an equal micro-adjustment is made pushing the teeth back where they need to be.

What to Expect

Getting a retainer is a very simple process. Your dentist may need to take a mold of your teeth, or they may be able to create one for you based on an existing mold. It will depend upon your braces treatment and what you need afterwards.

In any case, a custom-fitting retainer will be made just for you. The custom fit ensures that it will keep your teeth straight and will fit snugly without moving around.

Once your braces come off, you'll likely need to wear the retainer everyday, and at first, possibly 24 hours a day. This is to ensure that your braces adjustment stays in place.

After a set period of time that your orthodontist will choose, you'll likely shift to only wearing your retainer at night. This makes retainers extremely convenient since you won't need to worry about taking them out to eat, and if you receive the metal kind, hardly anyone will see it while you're wearing it at night.

Retainers protect the adjustment that you've spent time and money on. Always make sure to wear yours as directed and ask a orthodontist like Donald E. Snyder Orthodontics if you have questions or concerns.