Dentists in Grand Rapids MI Retainers

Retainer care and patience is something people tend to forget about over time. Whether you own a retainer now or plan to get one in the future, we as your Grand Rapids, MI dental practice want to assist you in handling all the information. From how long you should wear it, to proper cleaning practices, if you have a few questions about retainers this read is for you.

What Is a Retainer?

A retainer is a small mouthpiece that helps retain your teeth’s new alignment after they’ve been positioned from braces or Invisalign®. Retainers do not align teeth or correct improper alignment, rather they help maintain proper positioning.

A retainer is a necessary step after braces or Invisalign, otherwise, all the time and patience you invested in your alignment therapy could be lost. Your teeth can be tricky and want to slowly return to their old positions over time. Retainers help prevent that.

If you happen to not wear your retainer for a day, don’t panic. Be sure to put it back in though to wear during your scheduled times to ensure that your smile stays consistent. Usually within 24 hours, only micro shifts happen and these won’t solidify right away so your retainer will still do its job.

Cleaning Your Retainer

You should clean your retainer regularly just like you do your teeth. Think about it...if a retainer sits in your mouth it’s going to collect the same thing that builds up on your teeth: plaque and tartar.

Be sure to clean your retainer every night in a cleaning solution like Efferdent and also use a low-abrasion toothpaste to gently brush the retainer. This helps ensure that the mouthpiece is sanitary and won’t put you at risk for things like gum disease or other oral hygiene concerns.

Kinds of Retainers

Not everyone will have the same type of retainer as some are better for different oral treatments. These are the most common retainers:

  • The Essix (Clear) Retainer: This piece fits over your teeth like a shell. It’s clear so you can barely notice it!
  • The Hawley Retainer: These retainers have an acrylic palette piece that rests in your mouth with a metal wire that wraps around your teeth. For those needing a Hawley Retainer, there are a lot of color options you can choose from to make it more personal to you.
  • The Bonded Retainer: This is a piece that doesn’t get removed from your mouth unless your dentist is changing it. The bonded retainer is a metal bar that gets secured with a dental glue to the back of your teeth to help hold them in place.
  • Bite Splint: Not a directly related retainer option, but a bite splint is something that can help if you’re suffering from “Bruxism” -- the case where you grind your teeth at night. If you’re experiencing a lot of morning jaw pain, or TMJ, ask your dentist about how bite splint therapy can help.
  • Partial Denture: This variation can fall in the retainer category if you’re missing a permanent tooth. A retainer piece can be made to hold in a fake tooth and keep your other teeth from closing in on the gap.

As your family dentist, we’ll make sure you get a retainer that fits your needs best so you can stay smiling for a lifetime.

Knowledge to Retain

A retainer is something you’ll have to wear for life, otherwise, your teeth will shift back to their original state. But, the amount of time each day you have to wear your retainer may vary.

For the first few months to a year after your orthodontic treatment, you’ll have to wear your retainer around the clock (minus when eating!) Depending on your treatment, after one year you may only have to wear a retainer at night.

It’s important to wear your retainer as scheduled to prevent your teeth from displacement. If you lose or break your retainer you should contact your dentist immediately to get a new one. For patients who went through an orthodontic treatment within the last year, more than a day without your retainer may mean some pain when putting it back in. Any time longer than a day and a half we recommend contacting us to see if you need to come in for an oral checkup. This is to make sure your teeth haven’t shifted too much and require further treatment.

When to Get Your Retainer Adjusted

Getting your retainer adjusted is no biggy. It’s a common occurrence that happens to many people so don’t freak out if your retainer is no longer fitting right. Just be sure to come in and see us as soon as you notice the change to avoid any unwanted pain or discomfort, and to ensure that your teeth are behaving the way they should.

As your family dental group, we recommend a new retainer every year to ensure healthy sanitation practices and to make any micro-adjustments as needed with your teeth.

Want More Dentistry?

If you’re seeking more oral health information, head over to our blog page where we post tons of content. If you’re in need of Invisalign braces or a new retainer, feel free to request an appointment online or by phone at (616) 453-8211 so we can help provide you with the smile you want. As your Grand Rapids, MI dentists, Lake Michigan Dental is here to help you smile confidently.