Although we enjoy seeing our patients for their regular appointments, we all look forward to the day our patients have their appliance removed. It gives us great satisfaction to see the enjoyment on each patient's face when they look at their beautifully straight teeth for the very first time.
But, it’s not the end of treatment. And, in fact, the important part is only just beginning. Now that the braces and aligners have moved your teeth into the desired position, we want to keep them there. That’s the job of a retainer.
What is a retainer?
There are two types of retainers but both have the same purpose – to keep your teeth straight! We’ll speak with you about the type of retainer we think will be best for you, but here are the options:
- Removable retainer – this is a bit like a small sports mouthguard, or an Invisalign aligner. It fits over your teeth to keep them snug and in position. To begin with, it’s recommended you wear the retainer night and day, but after approximately three months, you’ll only need to wear it at night.
- Fixed retainer – this consists of a small wire permanently attached to the back surface of your teeth to hold your teeth in position. You can still eat and drink with it in, and brush and floss your teeth. No one will be able to see it and eventually you won’t even know it’s there.
You should wear your retainer for as long as you want your teeth to stay straight!
Top tips for looking after your retainer
- Wear your retainer at all times, until your orthodontist instructs otherwise.
- Take your retainer out when eating, and always put it back in its case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunchrooms or restaurants.)
- Clean your retainer thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque and eliminates odors. Efferdent® or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used but do not take the place of brushing.
- When your retainer is not in your mouth, it should ALWAYS be in its case. Pets love to chew on them!
- Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to it faster.
- Retainers are breakable, so treat yours with care. If your retainer gets lost or broken, call us immediately.
- Always bring your retainer to your appointments.
- Retainer replacements are expensive, but with proper care they will last for years!
- Remove your retainer when you go swimming.
- Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.
If you have any questions or concerns about your retainer, or you believe it needs adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust it yourself.