The Importance of Retainers

Wearing retainers is one of the most important parts of your orthodontic treatment. Together we have worked hard to get your teeth into their best possible position. However, when braces are removed, the teeth have a tendency to want to return to their original positions. To prevent this from happening and to allow the teeth to adapt to their new positions, retainers must be worn faithfully.

Minor tooth movement occurs in every mouth throughout life, whether or not there has been prior orthodontic treatment. The most common area for change is in the lower front teeth. These changes are normal and may be greatly minimized or possibly eliminated by continued retainer wear on a long term basis.

We recommend that after the initial stabilization period, retainers be worn every night for at least one to two years, and then to a lesser degree "forever" while sleeping. For some this might be three to four times a week and for others it might be once a week to check to see if any tooth movement has occurred.

Please bring your retainers to all of your retention appointments so we may check their fit and adjust them if necessary.

If the retainers are damaged or lost, there is an additional charge to replace them. If your retainers do not fit correctly or you are unable to wear them, please call the office immediately. Not wearing a retainer even for a short period of time may require a new retainer or possibly rebonding of the teeth at an additional cost.

Types of Retainers

  • Traditional removable retainers are made with colored acrylic and wire. You can choose from many colors and designs.
  • Clear overlay retainers are small and easy to wear. They also protect the surfaces of your teeth if you have a grinding or clenching habit.

When the retainers are removed in the morning, please brush them carefully with your toothbrush and toothpaste. If plaque builds up on your retainer, please bring it in for us to clean. Do NOT use Efferdent or other denture products to clean your retainer- the solder joints will dissolve and the retainer will need to be replaced!!! During the day please put the retainers in the case provided. If you have a dog, please keep the retainers away from the dog even when they are in their case. Please do not put the retainers or retainer cases in the direct sunlight, boiling water or in the microwave to clean them. Do not chew gum with the retainers in!

  • A bonded retainer is a small wire bonded (glued) to the tongue side of your lower front six teeth.

Care must be taken to try and avoid breaking the bonded retainer by watching what you bite into with your front teeth. Please do not bite into anything hard or chewy.

Each tooth is attached to the wire with a small pad of tooth-colored bonding material. Please inspect these bonds when you brush your teeth and call us immediately if one is missing or has come unattached from a tooth. Once a tooth comes unbonded it is free to move and often will do so. If this occurs, the bonded retainer may have to be removed and remade, resulting in additional charges. Please make sure to brush around the bonded retainer thoroughly twice a day to remove all visible plaque. It should also be flossed daily by using a floss threader as instructed in our office. If you ever choose to remove a bonded retainer, it should be replaced with a removable retainer that will be worn at night only.