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Braces and Retainers

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Crooked teeth need to be corrected. It helps align the teeth properly and increase the cosmetic appeal of the mouth. The dentist will refer one to an orthodontist who has a specialization in teeth straightening. Braces and retainers are devices that help align and straighten your teeth. Let’s see more about braces and retainers, the one’s that are best for you.

What are Braces?

Dental braces are help align, straighten and position teeth, according to one’s bite.  Braces are used to correct:

  • Underbites
  • Overbites
  • Cross bites
  • Deep bites
  • Open bites
  • Crooked teeth
  • Malocclusions
  • Other dental flaws, including the jaw

Types of Braces

There are different types of braces that include:

  • Traditional metal wired braces: These are made of stainless steel in combination with titanium. They have an elastic band to hold the wire with the metal brackets. The traditional braces give the ‘full metal mouth’ look to the wearer
  • Brackets: These are made of stainless steel or tooth-colored or clear ceramic or plastic brackets. The disadvantage of these brackets is that the friction between the wire and brackets is more. This increases the time for completion of treatment.
  • Lingual-type brackets: The brackets are placed behind the teeth instead of the front.
  • Invisible Aligners: These braces are used only when minor adjustments or alignments are needed. The braces are made of clear brackets or aligners and thus, hardly visible.
  • Mini braces: These are really small braces used for certain type of patients.

How Long Does One Wear Braces?

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The duration of wearing braces depends on individual condition. Severe misalignment or distance between teeth will require more time. Also, the instructions given by the dentist followed by the patient also determines the success of the treatment. Usually, about 1 to 3 years is the duration for wearing braces.

Do Braces Cause Pain?

Braces do not cause pain, but the adjustments made to the braces will make the mouth sore. In this case, the orthodontist will advise you over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen.

What Happens After the Braces Are Removed?

Once the braces are removed, the teeth will be cleaned. An X-ray and bite impression will be taken to check the alignment after the braces are removed. If wisdom teeth are making an appearance, they will be removed, to prevent the teeth from shifting position again.

What are Retainers?

Retainers are custom-made devices that help hold teeth in position after surgery or removal of braces. In some cases, they may be applied before applying the dental braces to help keep the teeth in position.

Why are Retainers Important?

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Retainers are worn for two main reasons. First, aligned teeth may move to their original position. This is called as relapse. To prevent this, retainers are helpful. Secondly, as a person ages, the teeth may move unpredictably. In order to prevent crossing over and crowding, retainers are very important.

Types of Retainers

Retainers can be fixed or be removable on the teeth. There are different types of retainers and each one affects the teeth in a different way. What’s right for you will be decided by your orthodontist.

  • Hawley Retainer: Named after its inventor, Dr.Charles Hawley, it includes a metal wire that surrounds the 6 anterior teeth to keep them in place. The acrylic arch is placed on the roof of the mouth. The advantage of this retainer is that the metal wires can be adjusted to continue minor movement of the teeth as well as to finish treatment.
  • Vacuum-formed retainer: This is another commonly used retainer. It is made of PVC material. The clear or transparent retainers fit the entire arch of teeth. They are less expensive, easy to wear and hardly visible after wearing.
  • Thermo-formed retainer: This retainer is made of an engineered polyurethane material called Zendura material. The material is strong, tough and used as a clear aligner.

How Long Does One Wear Retainers?

The risk of relapse is very high in the first month of removing the braces. The teeth can take a year or more to stabilize after the removal of braces. Thu, retainers can be worn for about a year or more, to prevent the teeth from moving to their original position.

Do I wear Retainers All The Time?

Yes, one can can wear retainers all the time. Retainers work only if they are on your teeth and not on your table. Many people wear retainers to sleep. Removing them while brushing, eating main meals or playing wind musical instruments is allowed.

What is Better Braces or Retainers?

As you must have understood from the above information, braces and retainers are two different devices. Each has its role in aligning, adjusting and correcting misaligned, gap between teeth or crowded teeth.

If one has to correct or straighten their teeth, they will need to apply brackets. Once the teeth are aligned, they will need retainers to prevent relapse and keep the teeth in position. Speak to your orthodontist regarding the type of braces and retainers that are right for you and help you get the perfect smile back.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: March 29, 2015

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