Reasons You Need Retainers After Braces - savina dental clinics malta and gozo

For most dental patients, getting braces removed is a long-awaited relief. But this newfound freedom is often short-lived as they need to start wearing retainers as soon as the braces are off. While wearing retainers may dampen this new-found freedom, they are necessary to retain that smile you’ve always wanted. This orthodontic appliance is designed to keep teeth in place after dental braces come off and prevent relapse.

After the position of your teeth has been corrected, your gum and bone need time to adjust to this position to be able to hold the teeth in place and prevent them from going back to their original position. Retainers provide additional support to ensure that your teeth don’t shift back to their original position. They allow your newly aligned teeth time to settle into the soft tissue and jawbone that support them.

To book a dental braces consultation, please use our online appointment form or contact us directly on (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport), or (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo). For international patients, it is recommended to request a free e-consultation where we can discuss your individual case and treatment options.

Types of retainers

There are two main types of retainers:

Fixed retainers

This type of retainer is meant to stay fixed in place indefinitely. Fixed retainers are usually made of thin wires that are worn across the back of your upper and lower front teeth from canine to canine. These wires are bonded to your teeth with dental cement.

Although this type of retainer requires more work and care to keep clean, it does provide the best outcome. This is mainly because the wires hold your teeth in place 24/7. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to provide fixed retainers for upper teeth. This is because your bite may not allow enough space for it and this would result in breakages.

Removable retainers

Just as the name suggests, removable retainers are just that, removable. These retainers are usually a combination of wires that are held in place with clasps and an acrylic (plastic) supporting plate. They can also be made only of clear plastic (similar to a clear aligner) that hugs your teeth. Since they are removable, patients should always remember to wear them daily for optimal results. Your orthodontist should inform you on exactly how long you need to wear them full time, and how often you will need to wear them long term.

The type of retainer your dentist recommends for you depends on your specific dental condition. However, it is not uncommon for patients to receive a combination of both. For instance, you may get a removable retainer for the upper teeth and a fixed retainer for the bottom. Overall, the type of retainer you get depends on the clinical requirements of your condition, the severity of your issue, and your ability to follow the doctor’s instructions.

6 reasons you need retainers after braces

Removable retainers after dental braces are removed - savina dental clinics malta and gozo

Although retainers for teeth after braces are most commonly used to hold straight teeth in place, the benefits of wearing retainers go beyond that.

Stabilizing your bite

A retainer is an extremely important orthodontic appliance that helps to keep teeth from shifting out of alignment. After orthodontic treatment, your mouth tissues and jawbone need time to adapt to the new position changes. A retainer helps guide your teeth to remain in their new position while ensuring little to no relapse.

Maintaining the right space for the wisdom and new teeth

Dental retainers are critical in teenagers and preteens who have had orthodontic treatment to create space for certain teeth that were previously impacted (trapped beneath other teeth) and could not come through. This is a possible consequence of having baby teeth extracted too early due to decay or infection. The neighbouring teeth can drift into the space left by the baby tooth resulting in lack of space for the permanent tooth to come through when the time is right. In such situations, braces are required to re-open the space. Once the space is created, a retainer is required to maintain it until the permanent tooth comes through to prevent it from re-closing.

Holding your teeth in their position

One of the main reasons why you need a retainer is to help your teeth stay in their new position after wearing braces. This is especially important since your body is always going through changes. In the process, your teeth may shift position as well, even many years after orthodontic treatment has been completed. A retainer helps control this shifting to ensure your teeth remain perfectly aligned.

Preventing treatment relapse

It is common for teeth to move back into their old positions in the months following brace removal. Retainers help prevent this movement, which is why you should wear them for a few months after the dental braces are removed.

Aligning the jawbones with the gums

Specific types of dental aligners are also used to treat temporomandibular disorder also known as TMD. This disorder occurs when a patient has a bite problem, or rather, the teeth do not meet together properly when the jaws close. The device can act both to treat TMD as well as to retain teeth in their correct position.

Correcting speech impediments

Retainers are also used to iron out speech impediments. If you find it hard to utter certain words, a retainer can help adjust tongue placement, so you can form sounds correctly.  Retainers also help to correct a speech impediment known as tongue thrust, where the tongue finds its way through the teeth when you talk.

What happens if you don’t wear your retainers?

Generally, retainers can be likened to home insurance, as they work to protect your investment. Failing to wear retainers leads to your teeth slowly moving back to their original position, making the entire process a waste of your precious time and money.

How long to wear retainers?

The human body requires 9 to 10 months for it to rebuild its bone mass to stabilize teeth. With that in mind, it is essential that you wear your retainers a little over 12 months before considering a reduction. After the first 12 months, your jaws should have developed enough bone structure to keep your teeth stable.

Conversely, if the corrections on your dental formula are relatively minor, then you may not need to wear your retainers as much. After the first year of wearing retainers, try to wear them at least a few nights every week to ensure your teeth maintain their new position.

Finally, it is important to note that the severity of the condition plays a major role in how long you will need to wear the retainers. For instance, if your teeth were extremely crooked before getting your braces, you may need to wear aligners longer as they may be more prone to shifting.

We know and understand that wearing braces and retainers isn’t fun, but it’s all worth it in the end when you get the confident smile that you’ve always wanted. Wear your retainers according to your orthodontist’s instructions to maintain the results of your braces.

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If you are worried about a dental related issue, interested in finding a dentist in Malta or have questions about any of the treatments we offer, please contact us using our new free e-Consultation service. One of our highly-qualified team will respond to your query as soon as possible. Our e-Consultation service is live 9 am – 6 pm Monday to Friday.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.