Congratuations, you are finished with your braces or Invisalign treatment and are now in the retention phase of your treatment. Here the goal is to maintain that perfect smile using a set of retainers which keep the teeth. But there are so many kinds, which one is the best? Answer: The one that is worn most consistently, of course! Have no fear, Dr. Henry will recommend and design the perfect retainers for you.
The type of retainer you need depends on your case. Dr. Henry often recommends a permanent bonded retainer on the lower row (because the lower teeth are most prone to shifting so he likes to have a fixed retainer there), and a clear retainer on the upper row (because it is the most comfortable, protects the teeth from grinding, and fixed retainers don’t work as well on the upper row since they tend to pop off when the lower teeth bump up against them). Check out the table below for a list of the advantages and disadvantages of retainer types provided at Align Orthodontics.
Remember, the most important thing, no matter which type of retainer you have, is to wear them as Dr. Henry prescribes. Typically, this will be full time (except for eating) for the first 10 weeks until you come back for a “retainer check-up”. After that, Dr. Henry will switch you to “night-time wear” if everything looks good! There is never a point in which your teeth are “set” and immovable; so there is never a point that you can stop wearing your retainers completely. Even after several years, Dr. Henry will still want you to wear your retainers at least 3 nights per week to make sure your teeth do not shift over time.
Retainers are designed to maintain your teeth in their corrected positions. Follow these instructions carefully:
- 1. Don’t flip the retainer with your tongue. This could damage your teeth or loosen the retainer.
- 2. The retainer’s plastic taste will disappear quickly, and your speech will return to normal after a few days of wearing the retainer.
- 3. Clean your retainer by brushing with toothpaste. Do not soak in denture cleaners or mouthwash as this will weaken the solder joints (where the wires are joined) or damage the retainer. Plax or Retainer Brite (1-800-866-6884) are good for soaking. If you don’t clean regularly, a hard deposit will accumulate on the surface and irritate your gums.
- 4. ALWAYS BRING YOUR RETAINER TO EACH APPOINTMENT!
- 5. When it’s not in your mouth, keep the retainer in the special case given to you (not in your pocket or wrapped in a paper towel or napkin-someone will surely throw it away thinking it’s only trash). The plastic retainer case will protect your retainer from accidental damage or breakage under excessive pressure.
- 6. Keep retainers away from pets-they love to chew on them.
Cleaning Your Retainer:
Dr. Henry recommends using either Retainer Brite, or an old toothbrush with warm water and dish soap to clean your removable retainers. Your bonded retainer will be cleaned when you brush (and floss!) your teeth. We have lots of tools in the office to help you, like tiny refillable dish soap bottles to keep in your bathroom, toothbrushes, Retainer Brite tablets, and special flossers that can fit between the teeth for the bonded retainers.
We want you to have straight teeth for a lifetime, and retention is a lifetime process!
Be Very, Very Sure To:
- Floss regularly using a floss threader
- Avoid biting into hard foods (carrots, apples, etc.) and objects, such as pens, to prevent breakage.
WARNING: Not wearing your retainer (for even a few days) could cause your teeth to shift. If your teeth shift significantly, your retainer will no longer fit properly and you will need a new one. Please call our office right away if you are having any problems with your retainer. NOTE: There is a fee to replace a retainer that no longer fits, is lost, or is broken.