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Congratulations! The time has come when you have finished your braces or Invisalign treatment, and you finally have the smile you have always wanted! So what happens next? Retainers!

Retainers play a vital role in your orthodontic treatment. They hold the teeth in the position where we placed them during treatment. Teeth have a natural tendency to move after treatment, particularly in the direction of their original position. This is called a relapse. Retainers function is to keep a relapse from occurring, so that your hard work, time, and money spent on orthodontics wasn’t wasted.

Many of us know someone whose teeth have shifted as a result of not wearing their retainers. Most patients who don’t follow through with retainer wear end up back in braces or Invisalign to correct the relapse that has taken place.

When talking about retainers, patients tend to have a few questions. Some of the frequently asked questions are as follows:

-What will my retainer look like?
-Will I have that metal bar behind my teeth like my friend has?
-Can’t you just put in a permanent retainer?
-Do I have to wear my retainer all the time?

At Spillers Orthodontics, our preferred choice of retainer is the Essix clear removable retainer. However, there are certain instances that arise where we may use a bonded retainer in conjunction with removable retainers. We have outlined the pros and cons of each type of retainer, so you will have the information needed regarding these two types of retainers. Then as the patient, you can make the best decision to ensure you can keep that beautiful smile you worked so hard for.

Removable Retainers

Removable retainers are made in the office by our lab technician. The retainers are made from a clear plastic sheet which is formed with heat over a model of your teeth. It has a tight fit and holds all of your teeth in position. You will be instructed to wear these all day and night for the first two months. After that, patients should wear retainers nightly for life. Retainers are a lifelong commitment. Many patients, with proper care, can get up to 10 years of wear with a set a retainers before needing a replacement set.

Pros
• Preferred choice of retainers by Spillers Orthodontics.
• Clear, almost invisible, and easy to wear.
• Cover the teeth and protect the teeth from shifting.
• Easy to clean since you can remove retainers to brush and floss.
• Can help protect dental restorations (fillings, crowns, etc.) if patient grinds or clenches teeth.
• Can be used as a bleaching tray. Patients can purchase bleaching gel from their general dentist to use inside their retainers to help whiten teeth after treatment.
• Give the patient the ability to wear full-time to move teeth back into finished position if patient went a couple of days without retainers and teeth shifted slightly.

Cons
• Patient has to be responsible and remember to wear retainers as instructed.
• If a patient loses retainers, there will be a cost to have replacement retainers made. If you lose your retainers, please call our office as soon as possible to have a new set of retainers made to keep any shifting from occurring.


Bonded or Permanent Retainers

On occasion, we have patients ask about “permanent retainers.” They may have had one at one time, or either know someone who has one currently. In our office, this type of retainer is called a bonded retainer. In some cases, this may be the prescribed treatment for you. A bonded retainer consists of a wire that is bonded behind the lower front six teeth to help hold teeth in place. This area is where relapse is most likely to occur. A bonded retainer can also be helpful when a patient has had a large space between the upper front two teeth. Once orthodontic treatment is completed and the space has closed, we may use a bonded retainer to help keep the space closed. Care must be taken when placing the wire to ensure that the patient does not bite on the wire or the adhesive pads. Placing a bonded retainer, whether it’s on the upper teeth or the lower teeth, is a simple procedure.

Pros
• Help prevent shifting of the front teeth, where relapse is likely to occur. Because bonded retainers only protect the front teeth, our patients leave our office with removable retainers to wear in conjunction with the bonded retainer. We believe in protecting all of the teeth, not just the teeth everyone sees when smiling.

Cons
Nothing is permanent. Simply having a bonded retainer alone provides patients with a false sense of protection. A bonded retainer is likely to break and most patients don’t realize it is broken until a tooth has shifted. Once movement has occurred, you may require further orthodontic treatment. If you have a bonded retainer and notice that it has broken, please call our office as soon as possible to have it fixed before any movement takes place.
• Patients must be careful about what they eat. Hard, crunchy, sticky or gummy foods may cause the retainer to break.
• Patients must be diligent in keeping the retainer clean. Patients must floss regularly with a floss threader to prevent tartar buildup.
• Bonded retainers don’t provide any protection from relapse for the back teeth.

At Spillers Orthodontics, we strive to provide the best treatment for our patients. For more information about retainers, or to schedule a complimentary orthodontic evaluation, call 478-953-2700, or visit us online at www.drspillers.com. Located in Warner Robins, GA, we are here to help you with your smile needs!