Having a perfect smile is one of the most common aesthetic desires, it is because of this that more and more people are joining orthodontic treatments to get on with this process that usually lasts years; However, when removing orthodontics, the road is not over, and it is that after it, retainers should be used, since these serve to keep the teeth in place after orthodontics, correct the movements of the tongue, among other things.
Function of dental retainers
Dental retainers are a complementary treatment to orthodontics, whose function is to position or fix the teeth in the same alignment that brackets have achieved. They are a fundamental object of use, since, if they are not used, the patient runs the risk of their teeth becoming disordered over time, which can damage years of work.
On specific occasions, a specialist may prescribe the use of retainers to a patient who has not had orthodontics, in order to treat or improve a medical condition, this is mainly due to the fact that retainers provide a wide variety of benefits, among which the following may be mentioned:
Retainers for tongue thrust
Habits such as tongue thrusting (sticking out the tongue when speaking or eating) or finger sucking can have consequences on the development and formation of a person’s teeth. This is why some orthodontists prescribe the use of retainers to reduce or eliminate the consequences that this may entail, in addition to neutralizing these habits that are classified as unpleasant.
Retainers to treat temporomandibular conditions
These conditions are disorders that affect the connection between the lower jaw and the temporal bone of the skull. Although the true cause of this disorder is unknown, it is said that this occurs when the patient clenches or grinds the teeth in a constant way, this probably changes the way in which the teeth are aligned.
This condition causes pain in the facial muscles and difficulty in biting or moving the jaw in the sufferer. In addition, the affected person can present / display problems in the modulation and the speech. Depending on the severity of the matter, the orthodontist may indicate the temporary use of retainers to correct the situation.
Keeping teeth in place after orthodontic treatment
As mentioned above, the main objective of retainers is to keep the teeth in the same position, after removing the orthodontics. This happens, because after removing the orthodontics, there is the possibility that the gums are certainly weakened, which can cause a considerable displacement of the teeth.
Types of dental retainers
There are several types of dental retainers , each of them is molded to the patient according to their need, condition and preferences. It is important to know the functions, advantages and disadvantages of each of them, to agree together with the orthodontist, the type that will finally be ordered to be made to measure, since depending on the case, certain types are recommended more than others.
Among the types of dental retainers that currently exist, are the following:
Fixed retainers are generally more reliable and tolerable than removable ones. These consist of the fixation of a braided flexible wire, at the back of the teeth, so that they are hidden from the naked eye. They are designed to contribute primarily to 4 causes:
- Maintaining the position of the lower incisors : If the patient suffered from crowding in the lower incisors and is between the ages of 16 and 20 years, a small growth in the jaw may restore the condition in the absence of a retainer.
- Maintenance of the correction of the diastema : when the objective is to permanently join two teeth whose space between them has already been closed, the use of a fixed retainer is highly recommended, since when using a removable retainer, it is possible that the teeth will separate again.
- Maintaining a space for a bridge or implant : in these cases, the fixed retainer must be used temporarily. The purpose is to reduce tooth mobility during the time prior to the application of permanent treatment.
- Keep extraction spaces closed in adults .
The removable retainers are made attachments in different materials, which can be removed and easily. Patients who use this type of treatment must take special care with the device, since in general, they break easily and if they are not treated with the correct hygiene, they take on bad odors.
The most common is that the patient wears the retainer throughout the day (except during meal times) in the initial phase (immediately after orthodontic removal); after that, you should only use it to sleep; later and when the specialist indicates it, they will stop using them completely.
There are several models of removable retainers, among the most common are the following:
- Hawley retainer or wing retainers, bre : It is made of an acrylic plate that fits the palate and a stainless steel wire that does the job of retention in the upper part of the denture. This is the most widely used model (mostly known as wire retainers), they serve to maintain or close spaces, on the other hand, it is essential for the containment of corrective tooth movements.
- Essix retainers : these are aesthetically preferred, as they are transparent retainers, made of a thin and small plastic that fits perfectly to the teeth. These can go unnoticed with the naked eye, and are very easy to put on and take off. How they are made to measure, any dental displacement can mean difficulties or impossibility of their use; That is why the patient should not interrupt the treatment for more than 48 hours on a voluntary basis, and in case they forget it, and the retainer stops working, they should contact their dental provider so that a new one can be manufactured.
Relevant aspects of retainers
Before starting treatment, the patient may try to gather information about which retainers are the best, however, it will be the factors that determine their use that answer this question. In addition, the patient must consider the aesthetic implications that this entails, and the monetary outlay that the purchase and manufacture of a retainer represents.
Among the relevant aspects that should be taken into account about dental retainers, are the following:
The price of retainers is a factor that varies according to the type and model of device used by the patient. The most common (Hawley) range between $ 150 and $ 300, as for the Essix or transparent, if the price ranges from $ 100 to $ 500.
Usage time: How long do the forks have to be used?
Generally, after 2 to 3 months of exhaustive use, the appliance should be used for 1 to 2 years in sleeping hours. However, there are specialists who recommend using this supplement for life, since tooth movements (although they are almost imperceptible) occur daily, and this can mean a setback in the patient’s achievements.
Care and recommendations
When it comes to removable retainers, a series of care must be taken to preserve the appliances for the longest time limit. Among these cares, the following should be taken into account:
- When removing them, the patient must remove them carefully and always from a different side. This in order to avoid wear and tear on the device, to prevent it from breaking or cracking.
- Consult with the specialist the appropriate routine that fits the type of retainer. In general, they should be washed with neutral products, baking soda, water, and toothpaste.
- While the retainer is not in use, it should remain in its box or case to avoid unwanted loss or damage.
- They should always be removed at mealtime, this will prevent them from filling with residues and making hygiene difficult.
Conclusion: Are retainers essential for people?
Although it can be annoying at times, the use of retainers is a fundamental step to successfully complete an orthodontic treatment. Despite being a very old device, its use has not lost validity over time, but has managed to evolve, to the point of not representing major inconveniences in the daily lives of patients. Although these treatments are most commonly applied in childhood or adolescence, there is no set age to be evaluated and treated by an orthodontist.