After the active orthodontic treatment period is complete and your braces have been removed, you will be given a retainer for each arch. This marks the beginning of the retention phase, during which a retainer is used to hold teeth in their new positions while the jawbone, gums and muscles adapt. You must wear the retainers as instructed, otherwise your teeth may revert to their former positions, and the benefits of having had braces will be lost. Retainers need to be adjusted regularly, so make sure to bring them with you to your retainer check appointments.
When to Wear Your Retainer
Wear your retainer at all times, even while you are sleeping. The retainer may be removed for eating, swimming, and vigorous sporting activities where a mouthguard is recommended.
Pain and Soreness
The retainer may make your teeth sore and you may even find that your speech is slightly altered for a few days. This is normal with a new retainer or after its adjusted. Usually, these issues will resolve on their own. If you develop a sore spot on your gums, call our office so that we can adjust the retainer for better comfort.
Cleaning Your Retainer
Brush your retainer daily with soap and water. If needed, fizzy denture cleaners can be used for a more thorough cleaning. Do not boil your retainer to sterilize it. If you feel that it needs sterilization, bring it to the office so that we can properly disinfect it for you. If you have a permanent retainer (bonded wire retainer) behind your front teeth, be careful to clean it as well when brushing your teeth and don’t forget to floss in between the retainer and your teeth.
How to Keep Your Retainer Safe
Because most retainers are removable, they can be taken out for convenience during meals and for cleaning. However, careful care should be taken not to lose your retainer. When eating meals, be sure to keep it in its case for safety. Never wrap the retainer in a napkin or store it in your pocket. Keep it away from dogs and cats, as they love to chew on these appliances.
Retainer treatment time varies by patient. Some may even require permanent retention to keep teeth aligned properly. We will discuss this as part of your overall treatment plan.
Remember, your retainer can only work when you are wearing it! Please give us a call if you have any questions about retainer use.