After the active orthodontic treatment period is complete and your braces have been removed, you will be given a retainer. This marks the beginning of the retention phase, during which a retainer is used to hold teeth in their new positions. You must wear the retainer as instructed, otherwise your teeth will move, and the benefits of having had braces will be lost.
When to Wear Your Retainer
Wear your retainers every night for the first two years after braces. Then the retainers can be worn every other night, as long as they still fit passively in the mouth. Eventually they can be worn every few nights, and then down to about once per week indefinitely. The important thing to be aware of as you taper down your retainer wear is that the retainers should always fit passively. As you taper down, if you feel the retainers are getting too tight, then you have to increase your retainer wear.
Pain and Soreness
The retainer should not cause tooth soreness, but your teeth may feel snug in the retainers. You may even find that your speech is slightly altered. This is normal with a new retainer and will resolve on its own. If you develop a sore spot on your gums, call our office so that we can adjust the retainer for better comfort.
Cleaning Your Retainer
Brush your retainer daily with a toothbrush and cool to luke-warm water. If needed, denture cleaner can be used for a more thorough cleaning. If you have a bonded wire retainer behind your front teeth, be careful to clean it as well when brushing your teeth. Do not boil your retainer to sterilize it. If you feel that it needs sterilization, bring it to the office so that we can properly disinfect it for you.
How to Keep Your Retainer Safe
Because the retainer is removable, it can be taken out for convenience and for cleaning. However, careful care should be taken not to lose your retainer. When the retainer is out of your mouth,it should be kept in its case for safety. Never wrap the retainer in a napkin, tissue, or paper towel, and never store it in your pocket. Keep it away from dogs and cats, as they love to chew on these appliances. Please note: an additional charge will be incurred for lost or broken retainers.
Retainer treatment time varies by patient. Some may even require permanent retention to keep teeth aligned properly. We will discuss this as part of your overall treatment plan.
Remember, your retainer can only work when you are wearing it! Please give us a call if you have any questions about retainer use.