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Retainers: Clear Aligner Teeth Straightening Aftercare
When it comes to teeth straightening, using a clear aligner is just as effective as using traditional braces. However, when your teeth have moved into the desired position and you do not need to use your aligner anymore, your dentist will recommend using a retainer to keep your teeth in place and prevent them from moving out of position.
Keeping your teeth straight after clear aligner treatment
Straightening your teeth moves your teeth to the desired position, but even after you have straightened them, they are not set in the new position for several months, which means they will gradually move back to their former position. If you want to prevent your teeth from shifting back to their old position, it is important that you wear a retainer as directed by your dentist.
Types of retainers
There are three main types of retainers, the Hawley retainer, the clear aligner and fixed retainers.
The most common type of retainer, it is a tongue-shaped acrylic molded to fit in your mouth and it has a wire that holds your teeth in place. Hawley retainers are very durable, easy to use and can be adjusted to correct minor movements of your teeth.
Clear aligner retainers
These look similar to the clear aligner you used to straighten your teeth. They are made from a thin transparent plastic that is customized to fit your teeth. They are not visible, so you can wear them in public without worrying about your appearance, and they are also easy to remove.
These retainers are mostly used on lower teeth, and as the name implies, they are not removable. They are similar to lingual braces because the wires are bonded to the back surface of your teeth and have to remain in place for several months. They are mainly used if there is a high risk of your teeth moving back to their former position.
Are retainers comfortable?
Retainers initially require some getting used to, but since you have been wearing braces for some time, the adjustment period is usually short. Clear aligner retainers are the most comfortable, followed by the Hawley retainer. The fixed retainers are not as comfortable because they require wires and cannot be removed by the wearer.
Taking care of your retainer
If you want to avoid introducing new germs into your mouth, taking proper care of your retainer is very important. You can clean the Hawley retainer by brushing it gently with a toothbrush. However, you should avoid using a toothbrush on the clear aligner retainer because the bristles of the brush can scratch and damage the clear plastic.
Denture cleaners work best on clear aligner retainers, while fixed retainers can be cleaned by brushing and flossing. Interdental brushes are very effective when it comes to cleaning fixed retainers. You should have a retainer case to store your retainer to avoid losing or damaging it.
The bottom line
Retainers are very important after using clear aligner braces because they help keep your teeth in the desired position until they can stay in place on their own. If you are about to finish straightening your teeth, talk to your dentist to obtain the right retainer to hold your teeth in place.
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