Retainers/Orthodontic Retention

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Keeping Your Beautiful, Confident Smile for Life!

Teeth are supported by bone, elastic fibers, and gum tissue that surround the roots. Braces and orthodontic forces move teeth to a new more ideal and healthier location. As teeth move, the bone is slowly dissolved and the elastic fibers are stretched. In order for the teeth to “retain” their new location a retention phase of orthodontic treatment is essential. Once the teeth are in their final position, time is needed for regeneration. The new bone must grow and firm up around the teeth, stretched fibers dissolve, and new fibers regenerate to support the new location.

Note: Typical regeneration takes 9 months to complete and will occur when teeth are not allowed to roam. Thus, it is necessary that the retainers be worn day and night constantly. In other words, twenty-three hours a day. Taking them out for meals is permitted.

When retainers are not worn correctly, there may be an unavoidable relapse and shifting of teeth. We think you will agree that you have worked too hard and spent too much energy and money for your new healthier beautiful smile to have this happen to you.

On an individual basis, we start a process where the stability of the teeth is tested by cutting back from full-time to night-time retainer wear in a calculated and controlled process. Your ability to cut back will be related to several factors, such as the severity of the original problem, your cooperation during the first few months of retainer wear, the position of wisdom teeth, tongue thrusting, clenching/grinding habits, and continued commitment to retainer wear.

At the end of the active retention phase of orthodontic treatment, we encourage patients to wear their retainers indefinitely at least on a part-time basis to ensure long-term stability. Any time teeth move, the retainers become tight. This is your signal that you have gone too long without wearing them. As long as the retainers are fitting comfortably, teeth are remaining stable. The body is dynamic and just as we age, our skin tends to wrinkle, our hair turns grey, and our teeth tend to wander and move. Fortunately, the movement is usually subtle and slow but nevertheless can occur. The more severe the original problem, the greater the tendency some degree of relapse will occur. Wearing your retainers on an every-night basis indefinitely is the best guarantee possible to keep your teeth in their proper position.

If for any reason retainers cannot be worn, call for an appointment immediately. Don’t adjust or tamper with the retainer. Anytime the retainer is out of your mouth, it is to be kept in the retainer case we provided. Your continued cooperation in this last phase of orthodontic treatment is very important.

Removable Retainer Instructions

  • Wear your retainers full time unless the doctor instructs otherwise.
  • Take your retainers out when eating, and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunchrooms or restaurants.)
  • Remove retainers when swimming.
  • Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.
  • Clean retainers thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque and eliminates odors. Efferdent and other denture cleaners may discolor your retainer so do not use this type of product. Instead, try to find Retainer Brite. It can be purchased online and will not stain or discolor your retainer.
  • When retainers are not in your mouth they should always be in a retainer case. Pets love to chew on them!
  • Initially, you may find it a bit awkward to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to them faster.
  • Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. If retainers are lost or broken call us immediately.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about your retainers, or if your retainers need adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust them yourself!
  • Always bring your retainers to your appointments.
  • Retainer replacement is expensive; with proper care, they will last for years!