How To Care for My Retainer
A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that must be worn after we remove your braces. Once your treatment is complete, your teeth will naturally want to shift due to muscle pressure. To keep that new smile you’ve worked so hard for, it is crucial that you wear your retainer to prevent your teeth from moving. There are two types of retainers: fixed and removable.
Instructions for Retainer Care:
We think one of the most important parts of the total treatment process actually starts after the braces or Invisalign come off. That’s because when your braces come off, the teeth will be somewhat loose. They need time to “firm up” in the bone until they become stable in their new position.
How Often Should I Wear My Retainer & How Should it Fit?
We will evaluate your retainer fit and wear schedule for the next 12 months. Please wear your retainer as described.
For the First 6 Weeks:
Wear the retainer all the time 24/7. Take it out only to eat and brush.
At Week 7 until 6 Months After the Braces Come Off:
Wear the retainer only at bedtime.
At the 6 Month Mark:
You may start trying to wear your retainer every other night at bedtime:
- If the retainer feels tight when you wear it at night, you are not ready to go to an every-other-night schedule. Continue wearing the retainer every night.
- Over time, as the retainer begins to feel passive (not tight) when inserting it, you may start wearing it every other night.
At the 1 Year Mark:
As long as your retainer inserts smoothly, without resistance, you can switch to wearing your retainer overnight once per week. However, if it feels tight or has resistance, you should still wear it several nights per week.
Remember: retention is a lifelong process. You must continue to wear your retainer overnight at least once per week. If you do not, your teeth will shift back to their original position over time.
How Do I Clean My Retainer?
Clean your retainer at least once a day to keep it fresh and free from bacteria and tartar build up. When you brush your teeth, go ahead and brush your retainer with a soft toothbrush, using lukewarm water (not hot) and toothpaste. Do not place in boiling water or in the dishwasher. Always store your retainer in its case. You can also use retainer cleaning tablets to help with the cleaning process.
The main problem with a fixed retainer is inadequate tooth brushing. As long as you brush well and use a fluoride mouthwash, you are unlikely to have an issue. Remember: Do not touch or pick at your fixed retainer. Do not use a toothpick to clean around it. You may also use a special kind of floss called Superfloss to clean in between your teeth.
What Should I Do if I Lose or Break My Retainer?
You have invested a lot of time, money and emotion into your new smile. Teeth move as a part of their normal use, and the retainer is the only template of your straight smile. If you lose or break your retainer, call our office immediately to have it repaired or replace.
Remember: Always bring your retainer with you to your retainer check appointments! We need to check its fit and we may need to adjust it.
What if My Fixed Retainer Breaks or Comes Unglued?
It costs $25/tooth to re-bond a dislodged retainer wire. If the wire comes loose completely, save the wire and call us immediately. It can only be re-bonded if we do it right away. Unfortunately, if you wait too long, your retainer will no longer fit, and we will have to make a new one (charge applies).