Dr. Richard Romay at Design a Smile is more than just a general dentist in Miami. He also performs a substantial number of cosmetic and orthodontic procedures. Over the years he has seen many patients who fail to follow direction having to come back for corrective orthodontic procedures. In the majority of cases, it’s as a result of failing to follow through with the use of after treatment retainers.
The retention phase of orthodontic treatment is as important as the active phase of tooth movement. Teeth are only held in place by ligaments and teeth can always move if they are not held in place with a retainer. During orthodontic treatment, teeth become loosened, and when active treatment is completed, teeth are not yet firmly anchored. If teeth move before the bone and gum tissue are firmly attached to the roots, teeth can move out of ligament. It’s important to have retainers for the upper and lower teeth. Retainers can be divided into two categories, fixed or removable, and both are commonly used.
A fixed retainer is a small diameter wire which is bonded to the lingual surface of the front teeth to maintain the ligament. A removable retainer either consist of a traditional acrylic with wire or it can be a clear aligner, similar to Invisalign. A fixed retainer can be worn for life. For a patient with fixed retainers it is recommended using a Waterpik to remove plaque from around the retainer. A professional cleaning with a dental hygienist typically every three to six months is recommended. With a traditional acrylic type of retainer, the wire wraps around the upper six front teeth and the acrylic conforms to the palate. This type of retainer is called a “Hawley Retainer.”
The other type of retainer is made from a clear plastic tray that fits over teeth and looks very similar to an Invisalign aligner. This clear type of retainer is much more common since the clear plastic is strong enough to withstand biting and grinding force; it can also prevent rotations significantly more than traditional retailers. Many patients are instructed to wear their removable retainers all day and night for a few months up to two years but can remove them for eating. Since removable retainers are exposed to bacteria, they can be rinsed and gently brushed using a soft toothbrush with a small amount of nonabrasive toothpaste. Removable retainers should be rinsed every time they are removed, and it should be cleaned at least once per day.
Plaque may build up on the retainer, so it is advisable that you see your Miami dentist or orthodontist who can professionally clean the retainer in their office ultrasonic machine.