You may believe all of the hard work is over, but in reality, your teeth still could revert to their previous, misaligned positions. During the next six months, you must keep a watchful eye on all aspects of your oral health so your orthodontic work is not wasted.
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What Is Retention?
Retention describes the six-month period following the time when your braces are removed. Contrary to what you may think, your teeth are not set directly in the jawbone. They are held in place by periodontal ligaments.
Stained teeth after braces reposition these ligaments over time, but when the braces are removed, it is critical to continue providing support and guidance to the ligaments as they adjust to their new position, or else you may find your teeth begin to shift back to their previous spots.
Types of Retainers
You will be outfitted with a retainer which you may have to wear all the time for six months, then later only at night while you sleep. Retainers come in three basic models: Hawley, plastic or a fixed. The Hawley retainer is acrylic, molds to the roof of your mouth and has an attached wire in place to stabilize the teeth. Plastic retainers are clear, molded to your teeth and can be slipped in and out as needed, with no visible wires. A fixed retainer cannot be removed by the wearer like the other two options, but the wires that hold the teeth in place are also not visible when you smile, making it an attractive and sturdy choice.
Your orthodontist will recommend a type to fit your oral health needs based on your progress with braces and the severity of your original condition.
Stay Committed to Regular Oral Health Routines
After braces, it is essential to pay attention to your daily oral health routine. Continue brushing twice a day and flossing as well. Your braces may have prevented you from accessing your gum line properly, so make sure to brush your gums gently during each session to stimulate blood flow and remove plaque.