Image showing the different types of retainersRetainers
When we remove your braces, we will begin the retention stage of your treatment.  The retention phase typically consists of wearing the retainer full time for 6 months, followed by night wear only for 6 months.  After this phase of treatment you should still wear your retainer at night as needed indefinitely. 

Your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers, so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far. Remember to remove your retainer before brushing, and brush your retainer before placing it back in your mouth.

Types of Retainers  
Invisible retainers
Hawley retainers
Lower fixed retainer
Why are retainers so important?
What can cause teeth to relapse or become crooked after they have been straightened?

Retainer Instructions for patients currently wearing retainers

Personalize your retainer

Hawley Retainers
The upper Hawley RetainerThe lower Hawley Retainer 
     Upper Hawley Retainer               Lower Hawley Retainer

This type of retainer may be used for upper or lower teeth. It has two basic parts:

  • Wires that wrap around the outside surface of teeth.  The exact design of the retainer wires will vary somewhat as prescribed by our doctors. 
  • Acrylic (plastic) that covers the roof of the mouth and the inside surface of the lower teeth.  You choose the color(s) of the acrylic for your retainer.  While children generally choose colors, many adults prefer clear, or flesh colored retainers.  It’s all up to you!

Hawley retainers can be used to hold or even move teeth slightly.

Invisible Retainers
Two clear Retainers
These retainers are worn when no additional tooth movement is desired. They are lightweight, somewhat flexible, and comfortable. These retainers are very difficult to see these retainers in your mouth and are therefore very esthetic.

Lower Fixed (Non-Removable) Retainers
A lower lingual retainer

This type of retainer is indicated for patients who may not be disciplined enough to wear a removable retainer.  If you have a bonded retainer, there are three additional points you must remember:
  • There are some limitations on the foods you are allowed to eat. Biting into hard, chewy, or sticky foods must be eliminated. Examples are apples, taffy, hard pizza crusts, frozen candy, ice, hard bagels, gummy bears, and whole raw vegetables.
  • Flossing your teeth will be similar to flossing when you had your braces on. You cannot snap the floss between your teeth. You must thread the floss under the lingual wire.
  • Please remind your dentist and/or hygienist that you have this type of retainer and that they should take extra care when cleaning your teeth.

Why are retainers so important?

These are very important devices. Braces move teeth by making them loose in a very controlled and safe manner. Since your teeth are still loose when braces are removed, they must be held or retained until bone slowly fills in around them.

As teeth are moved by braces, there are changes that occur in the bone and fibers attached to the teeth. These changes cause teeth to become slightly loose. When braces are removed this “looseness” still exists. This creates an unstable condition in which teeth can move slightly in all directions.

Over a period of months, bone begins to “fill in” around the roots of the teeth causing their positions to solidify. Retainers (or other retention devices) are necessary to hold teeth perfectly straight while this filling in of bone is occurring. If retainers are not worn during this period, teeth may be out of alignment and become “set” while they are not straight.

What can cause teeth to relapse or become crooked after they have been straightened?
  • Not wearing your retainers
  • A tongue thrust that has not been corrected
  • Thumb sucking that has not been stopped
  • New fillings or crowns being placed without checking if retainers or positioners still fit properly

We have done everything possible to give you long-term stability for your teeth. It is now up to you to keep them straight.

Please be sure to obtain recommendations and removal of your wisdom teeth from your dentist if we have not done so or if you are no longer visiting our office on a regular basis.

As the years go by you will notice facial changes occurring which have been genetically predetermined. These changes sometimes have an effect on the stability of your teeth. If you notice any changes, please call us so that corrections can be made while they are still minor. The longer you wait to contact our office, the more difficult the adjustments will be.

Retainer Instructions

  • Removable retainers should be worn 24 hours a day for the first six months after the braces are removed. If you wear the retainers as instructed, the retainers can then be worn for 12 hours a day, or as directed by the doctor at your retention visits.
  • Take your retainers out when eating… and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunch rooms or restaurants.)
  • Clean retainers thoroughly once a day with a dish soap and a toothbrush.  Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and eliminates odors.
  • 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 difficult 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 broken, please retainer with you when you come to the office.  Do not flip the retainer with your tongue, as this weakens the wire
  • Always remove your retainers with your fingers by pulling on the loops.
  • Always bring your retainers to your appointments.
  • Retainer replacement is expensive… with proper care they will last for years!
  • Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.

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