Rather than realign the teeth, removable appliances such as retainers are used to maintain tooth alignment. They are often used before and in conjunction with fixed appliances such as braces.
It is important to keep to your prescribed schedule for the removable appliance. Otherwise, your teeth, jaws and muscles may move back toward their pre-treatment positions. Removable appliances require care.
Once your braces have aligned the teeth, they are removed. The next step is called retention. During this time, retainers hold your teeth in their new positions until your bone, gums, and muscles adapt to the new teeth positions. You must wear your retainer as instructed, otherwise your teeth may move toward their original positions and the benefit of wearing your braces will be lost.
Your orthodontist will determine how long you need to wear your retainer. Time varies with each patient. Some people may need retainers for an extended period of time in order to eliminate shifting of the teeth. In some cases, permanent retention may be necessary. The retention period is an important part of your overall treatment.
Retainers require the same conscientious care you provide for your teeth. After meals, clean all parts of the retainer with a brush, and otherwise handle your retainer with care.
Tips for Retainer Care
- Wear your appliance as directed by your orthodontist. It may be removed while eating, swimming, or playing vigorous sports activities. In two or three days your speech will return to normal with the appliance in place. Avoid flipping your appliance with your tongue. This can cause damage to your teeth or breakage of your appliance.
- Your new appliance may make your teeth sore for a day or two, especially after an adjustment. If you have a sore spot on your gums call our office so that we can adjust the appliance.
- Clean your appliance by brushing it daily with toothpaste. Denture cleaner can also be used periodically for a more thorough cleaning. If you are wearing a bonded wire retainer behind your front teeth, be extra careful to clean the wire and the area around it. Flossing should be done every day.
- Never wrap your appliance in a paper napkin or tissue and set it down on the table. You or someone else may throw it away. Whenever it is not in your mouth it should be in its plastic appliance case.
- Keep your appliance away from dogs or cats as they love to chew on them. Avoid storing them near any source of heat.
- The first set of retainers is included in the fee for orthodontic treatment. A fee will be charged for any additional retainers that are made. If you lose or break retainers, please call the office as soon as possible to set up an appointment to fit you with a new retainer.