A retainer can be the bane of a kid's existence. But in the long run, it's worth the trouble and self-consciousness it causes.
Adults can also use retainers but the exquisite embarrassment seems to belong solely to the adolescent crowd.
For most of these teens and pre-teens, the retainer is just the first half of the double whammy of teeth straightening, after having lived with braces. Occasionally, braces aren't necessary to do the job but usually, it's a combined effort.
Braces and retainers are used to correct an underbite or overbite, or to straighten crooked teeth. Once the braces come off, the retainer moves in to keep teeth from shifting position.
A retainer is custom-made by an orthodontist, who specializes in straightening teeth and jaw problems.
To fit you for your retainer, your orthodontist will make an impression of the inside of your mouth with a thick liquid called alginate. Within a week, you should have your finished retainer. It will be a perfect fit for you.
It's still going to take getting used to, though. You will be very aware of it in your mouth at first.
You will have to re-learn how to make the sound "sss", for instance, and you'll have to enunciate your words differently now. Give it a little time though and you will become used to things.
Clean your retainer daily since it is exposed all the time to plaque, food particles and bacteria. Your orthodontist will tell you how to clean it properly.
Soak it in water when you don't have it in. This will keep it from becoming too dry and cracking.
Keep it away from heat so it doesn't warp. And don't bend the wires, they are in the right position for your teeth.
Upper retainers are made of hard plastic or rubber. A wire extends across the outer tooth surface.
Most retainers are removable. However, they probably need to be worn all day every day for the first six months. After that, you may only need to wear them at night while you're sleeping.
Keep wearing your retainer, so you don't have to go back to braces again. Your teeth could shift out of position without it as it will take some time before your gums, bones and muscles get fully adjusted.