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 while the jawbone, gums and muscles adapt. You must wear the retainer as instructed, otherwise your teeth may revert to their former positions, and the benefits of having had braces will be lost.

types of retainers

There are three different styles of retainers that are commonly used with our patients. 

1) FIXED RETAINER: A wire is attached to the inside surface of your lower (and sometimes upper) front teeth.  This allows teeth to stay straight without longterm wear of a removeable retainer.  However, flossing around a fixed retainer requires extra steps to be able to thread the floss between the retainer wire and the gums.  If this type of retainer comes loose, it can be reattached in our office.

2) CLEAR RETAINERS: Similar in appearance to Invisalign, these retainers are a common choice for most of our patients.  They are very esthetic and it is difficult for others to know that you are wearing them.  Patients who grind their teeth find that these retainers will protect their teeth from the effects of grinding.

3) TRADITIONAL OR HAWLEY RETAINERS: This style of retainer has been used by orthodontists for decades.  We may recommend this style of retainer after specific types of orthodontic correction.  If comes in many different colors!

When to Wear Your Retainer

For the first three months after braces are removed, you will be asked to wear your retainer full-time, even while you are sleeping. taking them out only for brushing and sleeping.  After this period, night-time wear is usually sufficient to maintain the correction.

Pain and Soreness

When first delivered, the retainer may feel tight and you may even find that your speech is slightly altered for a few days. 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 toothpaste. 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 during meals and for cleaning. However, careful care should be taken not to lose your retainer. When eating meals, be sure to keep it in its case for safety. Never wrap the retainer in a napkin or store it in your pocket. Keep it away from dogs and cats, as they love to chew on these appliances. 

Remember, your retainer can only work when you are wearing it! Please give us a call if you have any questions about retainer use.