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Can You Get A Retainer Without Braces

by Clara Wynn
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Can You Get A Retainer Without Braces

Can You Get A Retainer Without Braces? Braces have been around since the 1700s — before that, people used wood dowels and metal plates to hold their front teeth in place. But while they’re an effective way to straighten out misaligned teeth, getting braces can be expensive. If you don’t qualify for them under insurance coverage, it might not be possible for you to get them at all. For many patients, this means having to put off any type of orthodontic treatment until they reach adulthood. Fortunately, there’s another option: retainers.

Retainers are devices worn over your teeth after the braces come off to keep your new smile looking polished and fresh. They can either be made from acrylic or rubber (the latter is more common), but regardless of which material they’re made of, retainers are available with different levels of effectiveness. The most effective retainers will move your upper and lower teeth by about 1 millimeter per month; less effective retainers do less work, moving just 0.5 mm a year.

For adults who haven’t yet finished growing, retainers aren’t always recommended. There’s no guarantee that using one will help you avoid long-term tooth movement — if anything, it could actually speed up the process. However, children often wear retainers during orthodontic treatments, and studies show that wearing a retainer helps prevent relapse, allowing the bone surrounding your teeth to continue its growth without being pulled too far in unwanted directions [sources: Harris, Linder].
While retainers are generally cheaper than braces, the cost isn’t negligible.

Depending on how much time has passed between appointments, the price tag for a retainer can range anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars per week. And it doesn’t end there. Since these devices tend to last several years, you’ll also need to pay for replacements every now and then.

So if you’ve decided that a retainer is right for you, read on for tips on choosing the best kind for your needs.

Choosing the Right Retainer

The first step in choosing the right retainer for you is deciding what level of dental care you want. At least two types of retainers exist lingual retainers and labial retainers. Lingual retainers attach to the backside of your tongue, while labial retainers sit behind your gums.

Lingual retainers are usually considered the best choice for adult patients because they’re less noticeable than traditional ones. This makes them ideal for office visits where you’d like your smile to look perfect, but don’t necessarily want everyone seeing your retainer. Labial retainers, however, are great for everyday life when you’re trying to hide them. Because they hang below your lips, they’re less visible than other versions of retainers.

Another consideration is whether you want clear or colored retainers. While white retainers are easier to clean, those with dark stains can sometimes make your teeth appear whiter. Colored retainers can cover up existing stains, though some dentists say that the color of a retainer shouldn’t matter provided that it works well enough to move your teeth [sources: Harris, Linder].

Finally, think about how comfortable you want your retainer to be. Most retailers will allow you to eat or drink, so choose accordingly. Some retainers can cause sore spots on your mouth, especially if you bite down hard. Others may feel uncomfortable against your cheek.

With all of these factors in mind, consider consulting with your orthodontist before making your final decision. He or she can help determine the best device for your lifestyle and budget and provide recommendations on how to keep your retainer working properly.­

You should know how much money you have saved so far on your braces treatment and compare it to the total amount you plan to spend on your retainer. Find out what percentage of the total expense each item represents in relation to your overall budget. If your retainer costs more than half of your budget, you may want to consider cutting down on other expenses such as eating out and entertainment. With everything else factored in, decide if you can afford a retainer at all. ­

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