What are retainers and what do they do exactly? It’s likely that if you live in North America, you’ve had a friend or known someone who’s had a retainer (or maybe you even had one yourself). But what do they do exactly and how do they work? Let’s go into some specifics – here’s your retainers 101 lesson.

What is a Retainer?

A retainer is a custom-made mouthpiece for each individual patient. It is made from a combination of metal and plastic and is moulded to fit onto the roof of your mouth, covering the teeth with a fitted wire of sorts. Retainers are quite common and are usually worn after having braces to keep the teeth in place for the time being. Both children and adults can and do wear them.

What Do Retainers Do Exactly?

Retainers can be used for a few different purposes. Sometimes they can be necessary to wear prior to having braces, and sometimes they can be needed once braces have been removed. A retainer helps to realign the teeth, or in the case of aftercare, helps prevent teeth from shifting out of place again.

What’s Involved in Wearing It?

Wearing a retainer will feel strange for the first little while. You get used to wearing it quickly. If you ever feel discomfort when wearing it, talk to your orthodontist and ask them to adjust it. It should never hurt or cut the inside of your mouth. While wearing it (only at first), you’ll notice that it can be quite difficult to talk clearly, and saliva can build quickly inside your mouth. So try to practise by slowing down your speech and really articulating your words to get used to it faster.

How Long Must Retainers Be Worn?

The duration for wearing a retainer will vary between each patient. The orthodontist will inform the patient of how long it should be worn and how frequently. Some patients may need to wear their retainer for several hours each day, while others may only need to wear it for a few hours before bed. Retainers can be necessary for a few months or even years. It all depends on individual circumstances and what your orthodontist recommends.

How To Clean Retainers?

Since retainers sit inside of your mouth for long durations, it’s important to keep them clean. Always carry your retainer case with you throughout the day to store it when removed. And be sure to discuss with your orthodontist how to properly clean it to help keep it and your mouth free from bacteria.

If you’d like to learn more about retainers or what the options are for realigning your teeth, contact us today at The Teal Umbrella to schedule your next appointment. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have.