Retention refers to the time after active treatment is finished and you are in the holding or observation phase. During the holding phase you are required to wear retainers to hold or “retain” your teeth in the desired position.
It is recommended that for the first year retainers be worn every night, at the very least. Retention is a continuous part of orthodontic treatment and will include a check appointment. Approximately 3 months after having your braces removed we will schedule an appointment to check your teeth and the retainers.
We ask that you bring your retainers to every appointment so that Drs. Montano and Cardall can check their condition and see how well they are fitting. There is always the possibility that your teeth can move and some wear of retainers maybe required indefinitely.
When asked by patients how long they will need to wear retainers, Drs. Montano and Cardall will jokingly reply, “You only have to wear your retainers for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight.”
As indicated by their name, retainers “retain” or hold the teeth in the desired finished position. There are several different types of retainers available; however, the ones most frequently prescribed by Drs. Montano and Cardall include the invisible retainer, the bonded “permanent” retainer, or the “Traditional” Hawley retainer.
The invisible retainers are made of a clear plastic material that has been heated and molded over your teeth on the molds taken after the braces have been removed.
These can also be used for whitening trays.
Bonded “Permanent” Retainers
The bonded “permanent” retainer can be used on one or both arches. It is most generally bonded to the tongue side of the front teeth. This type of retainer is especially helpful in a case of severely crooked or crowded teeth, or to keep large gaps from opening back up.
“Traditional” Hawley Retainers
The “Traditional” Hawley retainer is made of rigid acrylic and wire. The acrylic rests on the roof of the mouth or under the tongue while the wire wraps around the teeth to hold them in proper alignment.
Hawley retainers are best utilized in cases where teeth have been extracted and the space needs to be held closed, or when teeth are missing and the space must be kept open for future restorative work.
Contrary to popular belief, one is not necessarily better than the other. All retainers, when worn properly, are adequate at keeping the teeth straight. Once the braces have been removed and after reviewing your treatment plan Drs. Montano and Cardall will decide which retainers will be best for you.
Caring for your retainers
With the exception of the bonded retainer, retainers should be kept in their case in a cool, dry place when not in your mouth. Never wrap them in Kleenex or a napkin, this is a sure way to lose them or throw them in the trash. Dogs and cats love to eat them too. Keep them away from direct sunlight or heat, as this will warp them. Always remove retainers to eat, drink, and brush your teeth before placing them back in your mouth.
Every morning retainers should be rinsed in cold water and brushed with a tooth brush and tooth paste to keep them clean and odor-free. Denture cleaners or designated retainer cleaners are okay to use as well, but never let them soak in mouth wash or peroxide, and never expose them to hot water. These can compromise the retainer material or in the case of hot water, melt the retainer. If a bonded retainer has been placed you must take special care to brush around it and use a floss threader to gain proper access in between the teeth.
Lost or Broken Retainers
If there is ever a question of how a retainer is fitting or if you suspect that it is lost or broken, call the office immediately. We will need to make an appointment to replace or repair the retainer(s). If possible, locate the retainer and bring it with you. If it is broken bring all of the pieces in, since it may be able to be repaired. In some cases adjustments can be made at the same appointment. Prompt action can prevent any shifting and help maintain a beautiful smile. A replacement or repair fee may apply.