Written By: Brooke Green
The main purpose of retainers is to “retain” the teeth in one position. After orthodontics, whether that be braces, expansion, Invisalign, or a combination, teeth will want to move. Retainers protect your investment after your orthodontic treatment.
Your Orthodontist will choose the type of retainer that is best for you and are meant to be worn for a lifetime if you want your teeth straight for your whole life. We typically have patients wear their retainers full time (during the day and night) anywhere from 8 months to a year after treatment depending on the severity of the orthodontic case. After that, your orthodontist will give instructions for usage.
Type of Retainers
- Glued to the back of your teeth
- Placed behind the six front lower teeth
- Used for permanent teeth
- Clear, plastic retainers that form-fit the teeth
- Used for permanent teeth, baby teeth or both baby and permanent teeth
- They are the most versatile but the least aesthetic
- Can be specially made to move teeth slightly
The retainers that we use the most in our office are: Essix, Hawley, and Phase 1 retainers.
- Used for kids that still have some baby teeth
- Hybrid of Essix and Hawley retainers
- Made up of clear, plastic Essix material form-fitted to the teeth and acrylic on the inside
- Cuts are placed in the retainer so the patient can wear it until all of the permanent teeth come in
Caring for your retainer:
Taking proper care of your retainer is fairly easy. However, there are certain daily tasks that must be followed to ensure the longevity of your appliance.
- Brush your retainers with a toothbrush and cold water or mouthwash twice daily. Soaking in denture cleaner or distilled white vinegar can also be used to clean your retainer.
- Keep your teeth and retainers clean. If you are unable to brush your teeth before putting the retainers in your mouth, at least rinse with mouthwash or water. Wearing dirty retainers or not cleaning your teeth before wearing the retainers WILL GIVE YOU CAVITIES.
- Do not eat or drink anything other than water with retainers in. The sugars in the food/drink will stain and give you cavities.
- NEVER use toothpaste on the retainer. It is abrasive, which will scratch the retainer and harbor bacteria.
- Never get the retainer hot. Store it in a cool place.
- Always keep the retainers in the case when you aren’t wearing them.
- If you lose your retainers or case, get them replaced as soon as possible to ensure your teeth do not move.