The active part of orthodontic treatment ends with the removal of the braces. Straight teeth and a beautiful smile should be kept as such, so after removing the braces, the phase that follows is equally as important – RETENTION.
Like everything in the human body, teeth are prone to changes and displacement due to growth, metabolic changes (osteoporosis), systemic diseases (diabetes), bad habits (smoking), periodontitis, ageing… To prevent or minimise unwanted movement, patients are advised to wear some form of retention appliance. The orthodontist individually prescribes the type of retention appliance, how long it should be worn and the frequency of check-ups for each patient. Dr. Vidaković will prescribe one type of retainer for some patients, another for others, while most patients will get a combination of two types of retention appliances. Some patients will wear the retainer for a short period of time, while others will be prescribed an individual lifetime retention protocol.
A wire-and-composite fixed retention is a segmented stabile archwire fixed to the inside of the front four or six teeth with composite to stabilise the most mobile and visible part of the dental arch. This prevents the teeth from spacing, rotating or overlapping again, which are the most common motives for wearing braces. Fixed retention allows you to wear a removable retainer at night, instead of all day.
The most used removable retention appliances are the so-called Essix retainers. They are made of thermoplastic foils pressed on the model of the teeth. They must fully cover the teeth the initial part of the gums. They are comfortable, clear, and easy to put in and take out. They stabilise the teeth after removing the braces.
The combination of fixed retention and removable retainers is the safest way of keeping the teeth in the desired position. While the fixed retention stabilises the front teeth, the removable retainer maintains the width of the entire dental arch.
The fixed retention and teeth it is attached to should be cleaned like all other dental surfaces: with sufficient pressure for the toothbrush to mechanically remove all food debris, the place where the wire meets the teeth should be cleaned with floss, and the interdental spaces under the wire should be cleaned with waterflossing.
Removable retainers should be washed with a toothbrush and toothpaste and rinsed with cold water. They must never be rinsed with hot water and especially not immersed in hot water for disinfection. The hot water will deform the retainers, making them unusable. It is advised to occasionally clean the retainers with tablets that are intended for this purpose.
After cleaning, the retainers should be stored in an appropriate container, never in a glass of water.