The purpose of retainers is to hold the teeth in the position that we have placed them. Without retainers, teeth will move back towards their original position. The first six months after we stop treatment is the most critical time because it takes about 6 months for bone to fill in around the roots of the teeth in the position that they have been placed. Imagine that it is like your teeth have been placed in wet cement and we need time for the cement to set. We generally ask patients to wear retainers full time for 6 months after orthodontic treatment, and then only at nighttime. Eventually, patients are allowed to wear retainers once or twice a week.
Retention is a lifetime commitment: Teeth naturally move throughout life (whether or not an individual has had orthodontic treatment); therefore, we need to wear retainers once or twice a week to ensure that the teeth stay in the position that we have placed them as we get older.
- Wear your retainer at all times, until the doctor instructs otherwise.
- Take your retainer out when eating, and always put it back in its case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunchrooms or restaurants.)
- Clean the retainer thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and eliminates odors.
- When your retainer is not in your mouth, it should ALWAYS be in its 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 it faster.
- Retainers are breakable, so treat yours with care. If your retainer gets lost or broken, call us immediately.
- If you have any questions or concerns about your retainer, or you believe it needs adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust it yourself.
- Always bring your retainer to your appointments.
- Retainer replacements are expensive, but with proper care they will last for years!
- Remove your retainer when you go swimming.
- Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.