Post-Orthodontic Care

Orthodontic Treatment in Bowie, MD

At Scott Orthodontics, we believe everyone deserves a beautiful, healthy smile to call their own. As a leading orthodontist serving the Silver Spring and Bowie, MD areas, we're proud to offer a wide range of orthodontic treatment methods, and we work hard to personalize treatments to suit the unique lifestyles of our patients. But there's more to orthodontic treatment than just braces or Invisalign, and no matter which treatment you choose, post-orthodontic care is just as important to the long-term health of your smile.

Why Do I Need to Wear a Retainer?

When we first remove your braces or you finish with your last set of Invisalign aligners, we know you'll be excited – but hold your horses. While seeing your completed new smile for the first time is an important milestone, you're not quite out of the woods yet! Next comes the retention phase, and it's vitally important to the long-term outcome of your treatment. You're through with braces and Invisalign – but next, you'll need to wear an orthodontic appliance called a retainer.

So why do you need a retainer if your teeth have already changed positions? The key reason is that while your teeth will be in new positions at the end of orthodontic treatment, the ligaments and tissues that support them haven't had time to "adjust" to this new alignment. This means those tissues will pull the teeth back, and without retention, you'll lose your gorgeous new smile! With proper use, a retainer will hold your teeth in place long enough for your mouth to adapt, helping to protect your new smile for years to come.

Types of Retainers

Just as there are different forms of orthodontic treatment, there are three types of retainers used in orthodontics, each with its own unique benefits and disadvantages. We'll recommend the best option for your based on your situation when we remove your braces, and we'll provide detailed instructions on wearing and caring for your retainer after fitting you for it. The three types of retainers are as follows:

  • Hawley Retainer: The most common form, these are composed of a molded piece of acrylic that fits the mouth and a series of wires sticking out from the acrylic to hold teeth in place. Hawley retainers are simple, effective, and durable, making them a popular choice for many patients.
  • Essix Retainer: Also called a clear aligner-type retainer, Essix retainers closely resemble Invisalign aligners. They're made from a transparent plastic material that fits directly onto the teeth and they're nearly invisible when worn, which makes them great for patients who need to wear their retainer more than normal to prevent tooth regression.
  • Fixed Retainers: Also called bonded retainers, these are made from a single metal wire that runs behind the bottom front teeth and is fixed in place with dental cement. Unlike the other types, these retainers aren't removable, but they also don't show from the outside. Fixed retainers are ideal for patients with a high risk of tooth regression.

Adjusting to Your New Retainer

As with braces, you'll likely go through an adjustment period when you first begin treatment with a retainer. You may find yourself salivating more than normal for the first day or so, and you also may notice a change in your speech. But don't worry – all these issues will fade within about a week of starting retention.

While every patient is different, most patients need to wear their retainer 24/7 for at least the first several months after finishing treatment. Eventually, we'll give you the OK to wear your retainer only at night, and further down the line, you may only need to wear it just a few nights a week.

Taking Care of Your Retainer

Finally, remember that oral hygiene is crucial when it comes to your teeth – and that includes your retainer. If you have a removable retainer, we suggest gently brushing it with a regular toothbrush every time you take it out of your mouth. You may also want to soak it in a glass of tap water with a denture cleaning tablet for a periodic deeper clean. If you're wearing a fixed retainer, you'll need to use a floss threader to properly floss underneath it. No matter what, avoid using hot water to clean your retainer, as that can cause warping, and always put your retainer in its case anytime you take it out of your mouth.

Contact Your Bowie/Silver Spring, MD Orthodontist

Retention is an important part of orthodontic treatment, and with diligent wear, your retainer will help safeguard your smile for a lifetime. Feel free to contact us if you have more questions on retention or orthodontic treatment in general, and remember that we're always here to help if you're interested in starting orthodontic treatment yourself. We can't wait to hear from you, and no matter where you are in the treatment process, we're excited to help you achieve a new smile!