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After months, and maybe even a year or more, the day is quickly coming when your braces will come off, and you will be able to reveal your new smile to the world. And while the hardware will be removed, your teeth aren’t quite ready to stand on their own.

Your braces have done the hard work of moving your teeth and the ligaments of your jaw into their new positions, but there will be a period of time that they need to settle permanently into their new homes. That is where the retainer comes in.

When your dentist takes off your braces, he will craft a retainer for you to wear to help keep your teeth in place. Some people may have to wear a retainer for a few months, some need to wear them every night for the rest of their lives. Every mouth is different, and you should wear your retainer for the length of time prescribed by your dentist.

Fixed retainers are cemented in place, and are a thin wire that runs across the backs of your teeth. Only a dentist can remove this kind of retainer, and you will need to brush it and floss it every night. You may need to use a floss threader to reach behind the wire.

A removable retainer is is made of acrylic and fits in your mouth. A wire runs around the front of your teeth. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a denture brush to clean it, along with a solution of vinegar and water.

Retainers are expensive to replace. Unless you are soaking your retainer in a denture solution, you need to keep it in its container. And, you should get in the habit of keeping that container in your purse, pocket, backpack or briefcase.

If you are considering getting braces, or if you have questions about retainers or other orthodontic issues, our dentist, Dr. Michael Dana will be happy to meet with you. If you live in the Spearfish, South Dakota, area, you can call 605.642.7727 to book an appointment at Dana Dental Arts.