The process for making the retainer for your teeth depends on which type you get.
For removable retainers
- Your provider takes a dental impression of your teeth using dental putty, a soft material similar to play dough.
- They put the putty in trays, then insert the trays over your teeth. This imprints your unique bite and teeth layout into the putty. It takes one or two minutes to take an impression of your mouth.
- A dental laboratory uses the mold to create a plastic (or acrylic) teeth retainer. You typically wait a week or more before getting the retainer.
Note: Many dental offices take digital impressions. Digital impressions are an alternative to the traditional impressions mentioned above. During this process, your dental provider simply uses a handheld wand to capture images of your teeth and gums. Next, a computer software program stitches those images together, creating a three-dimensional model of your mouth.
For fixed retainers:
Your dental provider uses a metal wire to measure the correct placement of your teeth. They use glue to set the wire in place. This intricate process takes longer than creating an impression for a removable retainer. But you leave the dental office with your retainer in place. You don’t have to wait for a laboratory to create the retainer.
What are the advantages of using a retainer?
When your provider takes off your braces, your teeth are perfectly aligned. Using a retainer keeps your teeth in the correct position so the results last. With the long-term use of a teeth retainer, all the hard work you put into getting and wearing braces pays off.
What happens if I don’t wear my retainer?
It’s normal for teeth to move over time. If you don’t wear your retainer, your teeth will shift and move. They can become crooked, crowded or misaligned. Or you can develop an overbite. That’s why most dental providers prescribe the use of a teeth retainer after braces come off.
Do they hurt?
When you get your retainer after your braces come off, it shouldn’t hurt. The fit should be snug yet comfortable over your teeth. You could feel discomfort if:
- You forget to wear your retainer for a short time, then start wearing it again.
- You haven’t worn your retainer in a long time and try to wear it.
- Your retainer breaks or cracks.
- If you do feel pain, it’s probably from your retainer nudging your teeth into the correct alignment. If you wear your retainer as directed by your dental provider, and it’s in good condition, you shouldn’t feel any pain or discomfort.
Related / Frequently Asked Questions on Teeth Retainer.