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The last day of your orthodontic treatment is here, and the spirits couldn’t be higher. After many months of experiencing teeth straightening with braces or other devices, you’re more than anxious to show that confident, dazzling smile of your dreams to your friends and loved ones! However, is this the end of your orthodontic treatment, or do your teeth need extra help to stay in line after braces?

Unfortunately, teeth tend to return to their original positions because of their solid long-term memory, putting your orthodontic treatment results in jeopardy. So, how do you keep your teeth in line without braces? The answer lies in dental retainersWith the help of these personalized devices, you will be able to preserve your perfect smile without worrying about teeth shifting out of their proper alignment.

Teeth Retainers are Not Eternal

Retainers have come a long way through technological advancements to keep proper teeth alignment away from constant jaw and muscle movement. However, “When do I have to replace my retainer, and how often do I have to do it?” Whether they are fixed or removablethe bottom line is, we do not currently possess the technology for eternal retainers yet, which is why you can expect additional, though rare, visits to your orthodontist to have a new retainer prescribed.

“But how do I know that my retainer needs to be replaced?” Over time, you will notice changes to your retainer, such as cracks or calcium build-up. Other times, it will feel loose and unfit to your teeth. These are your most significant cues that your retainer is up for a replacement!

Here at Loudoun Orthodontics, we’ve turned superior patient care into our mission, which is why we’re educating our patients on proper retainer care and use. For that reason, we’re taking today’s blog to discuss the four main signs that call for a retainer replacement and why ignoring these signs can result in you going back to orthodontic treatment.   

#1: Your Retainer Exhibits Small Cracks

As we’ve said earlier, teeth retainers are not eternal. With or without use, the retainer material will gradually exhibit cracks, which reduce the retainer’s effectiveness and put your orthodontic treatment results at risk. These cracks will only become more prominent left unaddressed, diminishing the retainer’s structural strength that keeps the teeth properly aligned. Make sure that you contact your orthodontist right away if such a scenario occurs.

#2: Your Retainer Feels Loose

Another strong cue for you to change your dental retainer comes from how it feels on your teeth. Over time, retainers wear down and even grow wider, making them unfit for your desired teeth alignment. As such, your retainer will start to feel loose on your teeth and no longer impede their natural relapse tendency.

As you gradually understand that the current retainer no longer feels right on your teeth, prevent any damage to your orthodontic treatment results by contacting your orthodontist right away. Changing your dental retainer is an easy process, so make sure that you don’t delay it until it’s too late.

#3: Your Retainer Doesn’t Fit Anymore

Another common issue with dental retainers is that they no longer fit our teeth. Such a problem occurs, for example, when we don’t take proper care of our retainers (i.e., we don’t wash them accordingly).

However, most of the time, the misalignment between teeth and dental retainers occurs when the patients forget to wear them altogether. As such, because of their natural relapse tendency, you will notice negative changes to your teeth alignment as soon as one month after the braces removal. Your dental retainer will no longer align on your teeth perfectly and might actually cause significant pain when trying to use it.

Research shows that 19 percent of patients stop wearing their dental retainers after 19 to 24 months, while 4 percent forget about them altogether. To prevent such an unpleasant situation, ensure that you follow your orthodontist’s retainer plan to the letter and report any misalignments between teeth and dental retainer over time. If you’re looking for tips on how to remember about wearing your retainer, make sure that you check out the following blog.

#4: You’ve Noticed Calcium Build-Up in Your Retainer

Finally, you will gradually notice a white layer building up on your retainer, which is caused by the calcium in your saliva. Furthermore, without proper care, plaque and tartar will gradually build up on your retainer as well, making it unsafe to wear.

In such a situation, many patients would be tempted to use DIY methods to clean their retainers through either baking soda or vinegar. However, it is crucial to remember that these DIY solutions are not always beneficial to your retainer and might actually end up having an adverse effect upon it. Consult yourself with your orthodontist and determine whether you can clean your retainer with an approved substance or a retainer change is the best way to go. 

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Conclusion

Dental retainers are the strongest ally in your quest to preserve your orthodontic treatment results. Here at Loudoun Orthodontics, we firmly believe that knowing why and when to change your dental retainer can make the difference between a confident, dazzling smile and the need to start your orthodontic treatment all over again. Do you think that it’s time for you to change your dental retainer? Make sure that you schedule a complimentary consultation with us!

Is It Time to Change My Dental Retainer