The day an orthodontic patient’s braces come off is a universally celebrated day. But that doesn’t mean your work as an orthodontic patient is actually over.
“Wearing your retainer is a crucial part of your treatment,” says Dr. Robert Gire of Gire Orthodontics, an orthodontist who treats patients in Chino Hills/La Habra. “This is because once the braces are removed, the teeth won’t be ready to stay in those new locations on their own. The bone, ligaments, and tissues of the mouth will need some time to adjust to holding the teeth in their new spots, so a retainer is important to ensure your teeth don’t drift back to their prior locations.” Let’s look at some common reasons why an orthodontic retainer might not fit as it should anymore.
Caused by Damages to the Retainer Itself
First, the retainer has become distorted somehow. This is more common in clear plastic retainers. Just like when wearing Invisalign aligners, the plastic of these can become warped by drinking hot beverages while wearing them, running them under super hot or boiling water, or by chewing on them (patients or pets). Any sort of damage or warping to this type of retainer can affect the fit.
A traditional wire and acrylic retainer can also warp. This is most often caused by taking it out incorrectly. This can damage the wire, leading to it not fitting around the teeth the way it should. It can also be damaged by sitting on it, accidentally stepping on it, running it over by the car (yes, we’ve seen this many times), or by playing with the wire. When the retainer is not in your mouth, be sure it stays safe in a case.
Caused by Patient’s Teeth Moving Around
“These are some of the reasons why a retainer may not fit properly anymore, but they definitely are not the number one reason,” says Dr. Gire. “When patients mention their retainer fits strangely in their mouths, my first question is always to ask if they are wearing it as I prescribed. And most of the time the answer will be no.”
If you don’t wear your retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist, especially in the first few months after your braces come off, you may find your teeth have started to drift a bit. So when you go to put your retainer in, it won’t fit the way it should because your teeth aren’t in the same position anymore.
You may have to wear your retainer around the clock for a while, while your best friend only has to wear hers at night. That doesn’t mean you can alter your retainer wear to match your friend – it means your orthodontist created a plan specific to your needs, and it’s important you follow it.
Gire Orthodontics Retainer for Life Program
“At Gire Orthodontics, we have a special program called the Gire Orthodontics Retainer for Life Program,” says Dr. Gire. “We wanted a way to ensure that the beautiful smile that the patient and I worked so hard to achieve is maintained….FOREVER.”
For a one-time fee, the patients will be covered for up to four sets (eight individual retainers) a year, forever. There’s also a small co-pay for each retainer but the fee is nominal compared to the normal cost of a set of retainers.
“Regardless of the reason, if our patients need a new set of retainers, they get a new set of retainers,” says Dr. Gire. “We never want them to feel embarrassed or ashamed for a lost, missing, broken, or distorted retainer. This program enables all the beautiful smiles to stay beautiful for many, many years.”
Regardless of why your retainer doesn’t fit anymore, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible. To keep the beautiful smile you worked so hard for, it’s important that you wear your retainer properly. So, if you want to keep your beautiful smile for life, wear your retainer exactly as your orthodontist prescribed.