5 min read

Are You Retaining Your Healthiest Smile?

As a child grows into adulthood, their mouth may be affected by many different factors. There may be reasons why professional services are needed to minimize unfavorable growth patterns such as a crossbite, underbite, or crowding of the new teeth erupting, that can be addressed by our orthodontists. Our team can help correct these issues by using braces or retainers to assist in the proper alignment of their teeth and the function of the teeth and jaws. However, even with the best care in the world, there are situations that may cause teeth to shift after orthodontic treatment is complete. So, what can be done to retain a straight smile?

Keeping That Beautiful Smile After Braces!

What can you expect after your child's braces are removed? Our orthodontist team will clean your teeth thoroughly and may take another set of X-rays. They may even take bite impressions to see the result of how well your braces straightened our teeth. This information will help the team decide which retention method is correct for your child.

After a mouth has been in braces of any kind, (metal, clear, or invisible braces) the importance of keeping the perfect smile is paramount. Retaining the teeth alignment is a job we take very seriously. Your mouth changes throughout your whole life just as your entire body does, so we need to do our best to keep the teeth where they are! Teeth can move for many reasons. For example, injuries to the face and oral cavity can require reconstruction and may change the teeth's alignment.

The best way to successfully keep the mouth in stable condition after removing braces is to wear the retainer prescribed and fitted by our orthodontist. This retention is crucial to keeping their teeth in the correct position. Our orthodontists will prescribe the proper retainer for keeping your child's teeth intact. Wearing their retainer is an integral part of their oral health and hygiene routine.

Grown-Up Smiles Shift Too

Our adult teeth can shift as well. Movement can be caused by many different factors. These may include:

  • Your jaw changes shape as you grow older
  • Injuries to the mouth and jaw
  • Tooth extraction
  • Gum disease
  • Teeth grinding
  • Wearing a CPAP (Continuous Passive Air Pressure) machine for sleep apnea
  • Ill-fitting retainers

Sneezing, coughing, and even your brilliant smile can cause your mouth and face muscles to move, which adds pressure as well.

Weak or unhealthy gums can allow teeth to shift. Bruxism is grinding your teeth, and many do this in their sleep and may need mouthguards. Those who suffer from OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) and wear CPAP machines may change their bite due to how they hold their jaw during sleep.

Adults may combat these issues with a retainer, just as children need them after braces. Braces may need to be placed to correct the changes if the problems are further along. Consistent oral hygiene and regular checkups will help your mouth stay healthy and allow potential problems to be identified early.

Retainers for Life?!

The American Association of Orthodontists states that wearing retainers for the rest of your life is the only way to keep your teeth in the ideal position (1). Retainers are prescribed for a couple of reasons:

  • Allowing the rebuilding of the bone, and the adaptation of the gums and muscles to the change in their position (1)
  • Maintaining the status of your teeth after your active treatment with braces ends (1)

The orthodontic team at Jungle Roots will discuss how long you or your child will wear their retainer. They cannot be worn too long or too much, but the orthodontist will discuss the specific time frame for your particular needs. A typical time frame for wearing them is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the first six months, and then after that, every night during sleep (2).

Types of Retainers

Our team will fit you with the retainer built specifically for your mouth. There are two general types of retainers:

  • Removable, which can be put in and removed by the patient
  • Fixed, which is placed and removed by the orthodontist

Removable retainers can be wire or clear. Wire retainers are made up of wire and an acrylic or plastic-like material. The acrylic piece goes behind the front teeth and across the roof of the mouth. This part can be made pink to look like the mouth's inside or customized for a personal fashion statement, with graphics, logos, or other fun designs in various colors (1).

Clear retainers are also removable. These are transparent trays made of a plastic-like material and go right over your teeth (1).

Our team will show you how to safely remove and replace the retainer. This will help prevent damage to the retainer and to your mouth (1).

A fixed retainer is usually a thin wire that is custom-fitted and bonded to the upper or lower teeth on the tongue side. These are not to be removed or adjusted by anyone other than our orthodontist (1).

Retaining and Maintaining the Retainer!

Retainers are the prescribed "key" to maintaining successful orthodontic treatment. The responsibility for keeping your teeth where they are the day the braces are removed rests with you, with the assistance of our orthodontic team. Keeping scheduled appointments with Jungle Roots is one step. We will map out a follow-up treatment plan with you to monitor the progress (1).

Our staff will demonstrate and instruct you or your child in cleaning the retainer based on the materials used to make it. Those wearing a fixed retainer need to brush thoroughly after meals and use dental floss to clean under the wire at least once a day. If unable to brush after a meal or snack, at least rinse your mouth with water (1).

Good oral hygiene should be continued for the entire mouth. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, rinsing the mouth, and general dental health check-ups at least every six months are essential.

It is important to remember (or encourage your child to remember) that proper care will extend the lifetime of the appliance (1). Some essential points are the following:

  • The retainer needs to be only in your mouth or in the retainer case.
  • When eating, place the retainer somewhere it will not be forgotten, such as in its case in a purse or backpack.
  • Don't wrap the retainer in a napkin; napkins get thrown away.
  • Don't put it in a pocket for safekeeping; it can be damaged by body movement or in the washing machine if not removed.
  • Pets love to chew on retainers; so keep them out of reach of the family pets!

If your removable or fixed retainer is broken or damaged, or if it no longer fits when you attempt to place it in your mouth, call and make an appointment with our orthodontic team immediately. If your removable retainer is lost, contact us promptly to obtain a replacement appliance.

Putting a Bow on It!

Preserving your smile is the main objective of using a retainer. The success of the years wearing braces needs to be followed with diligence in wearing the retainer. The last thing you want to happen is to need braces again to correct shifting teeth. If they skip wearing their retainer, you may see a dramatic movement of your child's teeth. In simple terms, the retainer won't work and help teeth maintain their position unless it is worn! Protect your investment!

At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.

Call Us - (480) 759-1119

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Location: Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert, Arizona