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Everything you need to know about retainers

OK, so you’ve finally broken free from the shackles of braces and to show for all the months (or years) of pain, you are now the owner of super straight teeth. Yay! OK, we’re being a tad dramatic but the constant anxiety about getting food in your teeth, being dragged to the orthodontist for yet another appointment and the no-gum rule nearly KILLED us. And, just as soon as you’re finished with the braces stage, it’s retainer time. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

What do retainers do?

Your teeth will have moved after wearing braces – retainers can help to keep your teeth in place and stop them from shifting back into their original position. So, if you want to keep your teeth super straight, you’ll probably want to wear a retainer. And, if you don’t want all that hard work and time spent in braces to go to waste (or, all that pizza you didn’t eat to go in vain *sob*), it’s probably best to wear your retainer as often as you can.

What types of retainers are there?

There are two types: removable or fixed retainers. Your good ol’ orthodontist will decide which one is best for you. If you’re having removable ones, they’re custom-made to fit your set of gnashers when your braces are removed.

Do you have to wear a retainer all day?

This usually depends on what your orthodontist advises and your own personal dental sitch. Sometimes, you have to wear retainers between meals and at night, but for most people, all they need to do is pop them in before going to bed.

Do they interfere with everyday life?

You won’t be able to eat or drink with them so no midnight snacking *sob*. Oh, and best to warn your BFFs before sleepovers that your voice sounds quite funny when you talk, otherwise they’ll wonder why your voice sounds so muffled.

How long do you have to wear a retainer for?

You will probably have to wear a retainer on a part-time basis for as long as possible if you don’t want to end up getting braces AGAIN – which, can happen if you don’t wear one and your teeth shift back. So wear that retainer – just trust us on this.

The biggest difference between wearing braces and a retainer is that it falls on you to make sure you’re wearing one. Sure, your orthodontist will check up on you and know if you aren’t wearing yours, but there won’t be anyone checking in at night to see if you’ve bothered to put it on. So, if you want to keep having straight teeth, that’s down to you!

Does wearing a retainer hurt?

I’ll be honest with you, it can hurt when you first wear one, and after each time you get it adjusted. Sure, it can be frustrating, particularly when you thought your dental pain was over, but you’ll soon get used to it and it will just be something that’s part of your regular routine, like brushing your teeth or going to the loo.

Are retainers difficult to look after?

You may struggle with wondering where you’ve put your retainer – particularly if you take it out to eat in between  meals. What I did was keep my retainers in a bright pink box so there was no danger of losing them. And if I did (which, happened all the time thanks to my scatterbrain) I could find them quickly.

Your orthodontist will also advise you on the best way to clean them and how often. Sure, it can be frustrating but keeping oral hygiene is super important to avoid ulcers and infections.

Are they actually worth it?

Yup. All your mates are probs getting it done, and thanks to the NHS, it’s free! Sure, there’ll be times when you’ll want to rip them straight out of your mouth, but you’ll be super glad you stuck with it when everyone’s else’s’ teeth start to go wonky and yours stays super straight.

Also, here’s a tip – probs best to take out your retainers before eating in the bathroom. Because, trust me on this one, your BFFs won’t be very happy to see saliva dribbling out of your mouth RIGHT before they tuck into a plate of mac and cheese…

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