Retainers – keeping those teeth straight

So, you had your braces for all those months, wore your rubber bands, and even stayed away from all (well, almost all) the foods that were on the “don’t eat with braces” list. The day has finally arrived and your braces are off, what an amazing day. But…. what? They are telling you that you have to wear retainers (you actually knew this, you just filed if deep in the recesses of your brain) and you need to have impressions taken to make them. What a way to ruin an amazing day!

All kidding aside, retainers are as important to your orthodontic treatment as the braces (or clear aligners) themselves. They hold those perfectly straight teeth in their correct positions until the bone is solid enough to hold them. Here at Kruse Orthodontics we recommend our patients wear their retainers full time for at least the first year and then while sleeping after that.

We thought it would be interesting to show how those retainers are custom made for all our patients at Kruse Orthodontics in our on-site lab.

We start with the impressions. Plaster is poured into each impression and when set, the impression and plaster are separated. Now there is a model that looks exactly like your teeth.  The retainer will be made on this model.

In the next step, the retainer wire is bent to fit the teeth so they are held in the correct position.  Clasps are also bent and added to help hold the retainer in place when it is worn.

adding the acrylic to the retainer

The retainer wire is then held in place with wax as the acrylic (and sometimes glitter) is applied to the model.  This is all done by hand so these retainers are truly custom made for individuals and no two retainers are alike, even if they are made for the same person.  The model is then placed into a pressurized pot to cure the acrylic.

trimming the acrylic on the retainer

When the acrylic is cured, the model is removed from the pot and the retainer is taken off the model.  The retainer is now trimmed, polished and ready to go.

The finished retainer

If worn properly and cleaned daily, this retainer will last for years. Always remember, retainers need to be kept in a retainer case when not being worn because they can break or be lost.

Remember, you worked hard to achieve your beautiful smile.  Please work just as hard to maintain it by wearing your retainers as prescribed. Remember, those retainers need to be brought to every future appointment.