Because teeth can continue to move throughout life, we feel that individuals who have undergone orthodontic therapy should wear retainers indefinitely.
A patient should wear the retainers full time for the first year after the braces are removed. Take them out when you eat or participate in a sport or activity where there is a risk of them being lost or broken. Keep them in their case when they are not in your mouth.
After approximately one year, most patients are able to wear their retainers only while they sleep and maintain the alignment of their teeth. The patient will know how much they need to wear them based on how they fit: the retainers should fit passively – if they are tight for longer than five minutes, they need to be worn more. The teeth can / will continue to move throughout life. Wear the retainers for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight. When you stop wearing them, your teeth will move: which ones, how much, I do not know.
Wearing the retainers is the best way to protect the investment of time and money you have made in your mouth and teeth. If, as we are suggesting, you continue to wear the retainers, you should know that they need to be checked periodically (yearly) and replaced occasionally (every three to five years), as they do not last forever. If the wire that rests on the front of the teeth is bent or the plastic is chipped or broken, call immediately for an appointment.
How to care for retainers
- Retainers are made of a thermoplastic material that is sensitive to excessive heat, so they should be kept away from heaters, dishwashers, car dashboards or any place where the temperatures exceed 115 degrees (Fº).
- Retainers should be kept in the proper retainer case when they are not in the patient’s mouth.
- Keep away from any family pets, as they like to chew on them.
- Clean before placement in the mouth. Because the material used for fabrication is slightly porous, plaque tends to cling to the surfaces. Gentle scrubbing with a toothbrush and toothpaste will remove the plaque. A denture cleaning solution, such as Efferdent, will aid in the removal of plaque and tartar. Be sure to rinse the retainers thoroughly after cleaning to remove any cleanser residue.
Because retainers are worn for years, they will need periodic replacement. Your original treatment contract includes one set of retainers after the braces are removed. If the retainers are lost or damaged due to neglect, there will be a charge for replacement. If the retainers become loose or break, contact our office immediately.
Habits or Conditions that Require Stronger Retention
- Mouth breathing
- Clenching and/or grinding of teeth (muscle hyperactivity)
- Tongue thrusting, low tongue posture or abnormal tongue posture
- Playing a musical instruments with a reed
- Lip sucking
- Pen or pencil biting
- Spacing between the teeth prior to treatment
- Severely rotated teeth
Our goal is to help your smile stay beautiful and healthy for a lifetime. Your cooperation is essential in order to achieve this goal.
Dental examinations and cleanings
The patient should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, to include thorough brushing and flossing techniques. His or her family dentist should see the patient at least every six months for cleaning and dental examinations.
The patient should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, including thorough brushing and flossing, as well as using the cleaning ‘tools /toys’ provided following placement of their orthodontic appliances. The family dentist should see the patient at least every six months for cleanings and dental examinations.