RETAINERS – retainers are a very important part of orthodontics to help maintain the result of your orthodontic treatment. Retainers do not move teeth, but rather “retain” teeth in their current position.
Even after your teeth are set in their new position, the effects of chewing, growth and natural aging can lead to shifting of teeth. Teeth are dynamic and will not stay in place unless held there. In order to minimize shifting, we recommend that all patients wear retainers for the rest of their life (when sleeping).
Full time retainer wear is recommended for at least 2 months after final tooth movement, and then can slowly be tapered down to sleeping hours only. Teeth can move within a matter of days or weeks, so if your retainer breaks or is lost, we recommend calling the office as soon as possible to set up an appointment for either a repair or replacement.
TYPES OF RETAINERS
We offer several different types of retainers that you can choose from with the help of our doctors.
- The Hawley Retainer is the most traditional style of removable retainer.
- It is a removable retainer made of acrylic on the tongue side of the teeth and a metal wire around the front of the teeth.
- A custom acrylic color can be chosen (rainbow, glitter, glow-in-the-dark options are available)
- This style of retainer is durable and will last a long time if taken care of properly.
- Hawley retainers can remain in the mouth when eating and drinking.
- Clear retainers are removable retainers that are made of a clear plastic that is virtually invisible. It fits perfectly around your teeth to help maintain their position.
- Unlike Invisalign, these clear retainers do not move your teeth, but hold your teeth securely in place.
- This style of retainer cannot be worn when eating or drinking anything except water.
- This style of retainer can also prevent grinding of your enamel if you are a bruxer.
- Clear retainers typically last between 1-5 years and then will need to be replaced.
BONDED RETAINERS (also known as Fixed/Lingual/Permanent retainers)
- Bonded retainers are a gold or stainless steel wire glued onto the tongue side of your front teeth to prevent movement of those teeth.
- These retainers are not supposed to be removed (except by a dental professional)
- Advantages include esthetics (nothing visible at all), unlikely to affect speech, it can’t be misplaced or lost.
- Disadvantages include more oral hygiene maintenance (especially flossing) and breakage (the wire can detach from the teeth if something too hard is eaten).
- The bonded retainer will only hold the teeth it is glued to. We recommend sleeping with a clear retainer that fits over the bonded retainer to maintain the back teeth in proper alignment, as well as hold the front teeth in case of breakage.
CARE OF RETAINERS
For removable retainers, always carry a retainer case with you.
- Do not wrap retainers in napkins/tissue as they may look like trash and accidentally get thrown away.
- Do not stick retainers in pockets/purses/backpacks). They are delicate and can be damaged if not stored in a hard case.
- Keep retainers away from pets (dogs love the smell of retainers and can quickly chew them or eat them).
- Avoid heat – retainers will warp if exposed to extreme heat.
- To keep your retainer clean:
- Use a toothbrush and antibacterial soap to gently brush your retainers. (Toothpaste can be used on Hawley retainers, but we advise not using toothpaste on clear retainers because it is too abrasive and may cause micro-scratches in the plastic)
- Retainers can be soaked in an effervescent cleanser (Retainer Brite or Efferdent are common cleansers). Alternatively, you can soak your retainers in a mixture of 1 tbsp of White Distilled Vinegar to 1 cup of water. Soak for 15-20 minutes as needed.
- To keep bonded retainers clean, floss-threaders are needed to floss under the wire. We recommend Oral-B superfloss or any other pre-threaded floss to help make flossing easier. Brushing all around the wire is also very important. Keeping up with dental cleanings from your dental professional is also key to maintaining proper hygiene with the bonded retainer.
- With bonded retainers, avoiding biting into apples, corn on the cob, or any meat off of bones (i.e. ribs, etc.) is advised to help prevent breakage of the wire.