After the active orthodontic treatment period is complete and your braces have been removed, you will be given a retainer to maintain your smile long term. This marks the beginning of the retention phase, during which a retainer is used to hold teeth in their new positions while the jawbone, gums and muscles adapt. You must wear the retainer exactly as instructed, otherwise your teeth will revert to their former positions, and the benefits of having had braces will be lost. Your teeth can’t move if you wear your retainer. It’s easier to wear your retainer than to have braces again (and pay a new treatment fee) if they move. We recommend wearing your retainers as long as you want your teeth to be straight!
When to Wear Your Retainer
Full Time Wear – Wear your retainers ALL DAY and ALL NIGHT, with the following exceptions: remove your retainers when eating, drinking anything except water, brushing, swimming, and vigorous sports.
Night Time Wear – Wear your retainer only at NIGHT (if you sleep less than 8 hours per night, wear the retainers for a couple of hours during the day or in the evening before you go to bed).
Pain and Discomfort
The retainer may make your teeth sore and you may even find that your speech is slightly altered and you have extra saliva for a few days. This is normal with a new retainer or after an adjustment and will resolve on its own over time. If you develop a sore spot on your cheeks or gums that doesn’t go away after a week, call our office so that we can make an adjustment for you.
Cleaning Your Retainer
Brush your retainer daily with a toothbrush. Toothpaste can be used if desired but isn’t necessary and may leave small scratches. Brush the inside and outside and make sure there is no plaque left on the retainer. If needed, retainer brite or denture cleaner can be used but don’t soak your retainers in mouthwash or they can get cloudy. If you have a bonded wire retainer behind your front teeth, make sure to get the toothbrush bristles below the wire and floss daily. Do not place your retainer in the dishwasher or boil your retainer to sterilize it. The best way to keep your retainer sparkly clean is to make sure you brush it thoroughly each time it is removed.
How to Keep Your Retainer Safe
Because the retainer is removable, it can be taken out for convenience during meals and for cleaning. However, careful care should be taken not tolose your retainer. When removed, always keep it in the retainer case for safety. When eating meals, never wrap the retainer in a napkin or it will be thrown out. Don’t store your retainer in your pocket, bag or purse because it will eventually break. Keep retainers away from dogs and cats, as they love to chew on retainers. Avoid flipping your retainers with your tongue and never bite them into place otherwise you can distort or crack them making them less effective. Lost or broken retainers will require an additional fee as they are custom made for each patient, so please take care of them!
Retainer treatment time varies by patient and the presenting malocclusion. Some patients may even require a bonded retainer to help keep the teeth aligned properly. Dr. Kaci will discuss this as part of your overall orthodontic treatment, as she customizes all of her patients’ retention plans.
Your retainer only works if you are wearing it! If you break or lose your retainer, call us ASAP before your teeth move. Although an additional fee will be incurred for lost, cracked or broken retainers, it’s much easier and cheaper than having to do braces again! Remember…wear your retainer as long as you want your teeth to stay straight!