RETAINERS IN THE REAL WORLD
Before eating lunch, you’ve probably noticed a student remove his retainer. He takes care to put it in a plastic container before he eats to ensure it is safe. Observing him, you can see how much he values this mouthpiece made of plastic and metal. You may be perplexed as to why this is so. We’ll find out.
What is a Retainer?
Plastic and metal retainers are explicitly created for each child who needs one. It’s a perfect fit for the lips, teeth, and gums. Even though many retainers seem the same, no two are the same.
The use of retainers is widespread. People who have braces are required to wear a retainer for a period of time after their braces are removed. Other people use them to fix gaps in their teeth, help with speech difficulties, or solve certain medical issues…
What’s the Purpose of a Retainer?
For a variety of reasons, you may need a retainer. A typical reason for getting retainers is to keep your teeth from shifting back to their original locations after placing braces. Your teeth will change as your body grows, so keeping your retainer is crucial. The retainer helps to stabilize this natural movement.
You will be fitted with a retainer by your orthodontist once your braces have been removed, and they will explain how long you should wear them and when. Sometimes, you may have to wear it all day for three months, then only at night after that. Retainers may be required for more than a year for some children, even if they just wear them at night at the outset. You won’t notice the retainer while you sleep because it keeps your teeth in place!
Some children use retainers as a preventative measure to close a gap between teeth or to relocate a single tooth. Retainers can be used instead of braces in these circumstances. For example, a retainer may be worn for a few years to fix a gap and then used to keep the gap closed by keeping the teeth in place.
For the first few days of wearing a retainer, some teeth may feel slightly strained and uncomfortable. Don’t be alarmed if this happens to you; it’s natural.
Retainers are useful for more than just tooth shifting. They may be used to treat a medical condition. A tongue thrust, for example, could occur (a condition where your tongue sneaks through your teeth when you talk). Small metal bars hang from the roof of the mouth on “crib” or “tongue cage” retainers, respectively. Keep your tongue from protruding between your teeth while you speak with these retainers. Instead of going through your teeth, your tongue is taught to go to the roof of your mouth. Depending on the child, the time they wear a tongue cage varies.
Those suffering from temporomandibular joint disease can benefit from using retainers (TMD). Malocclusion (pronounced mal-uh-KLOO-zhun) or bruxism (pronounced BRUK-sih-zum)—the habit of grinding one’s teeth as you sleep—is commonly to blame condition. Your jaw muscles and joints can be strained by grinding, leading to headaches or jaw pain. Restrict your teeth from grinding using a retainer to keep your mouth from closing entirely at night.
Having a Retainer Fitted and Wearing it
This is the simplest portion of the process. You will be fitted for a retainer with alginate by your orthodontist (say: AL-juh-nate). Chewing on it forms a mold on your teeth because it is such a chewy, chalky thick liquid. Getting fit takes only a few minutes, is painless, and doesn’t taste unpleasant.
As a result, your finished retainer can be customized to reflect your taste and preferences. The plastic section of the retainer can be decorated with a picture of Batman, Christmas trees, or Halloween bats. Getting your retainer normally takes less than a week after you’ve been fitted.
At first, you may find that your retainer is uncomfortable. Normal behavior. Remember that your orthodontist may need to alter your retainer if it hurts or cuts into your gums while you wear it.
As a beginner, you’ll need some practice speaking with your mouth full of the device. The more you practice speaking slowly, the less noticeable it will become. Dentists recommend reading aloud daily for a few minutes to improve oral health. In the first few days of wearing your new retainer, you may notice an increase in saliva flow (more spit in your mouth). This is quite normal.
Your Retainer’s Care
It’s not uncommon for dental retainers to live alongside bacteria, plaque, and food debris. Your orthodontist can provide specific instructions on how to care for the type of retainer you have. For example, some types should not be washed with toothpaste. You can also clean it by soaking it in mouthwash or a denture cleaning product.
Always wet your retainer when it’s not in your mouth to prevent it from drying out and cracking. Don’t put plastic in hot water or leave it near a heat source like a radiator because it can distort quickly. Finally, keep the wires straight. The wires in your retainer will bend if you rotate it in your mouth.
Preventing the loss of your retainer is a crucial part of maintaining its health. They’re pricey, and your parents may be on the hook for any missing or damaged ones. Even worse, they may want you to contribute to the cost of a new one. So, think twice before you throw away your lunch tray, and try to keep it in the same position at home when you’re not eating it. Keep your retainer, in other words!