retainersOnce you are out of braces, showing off your beautiful straight smile, it is important to remember that your teeth will move back to their prior position without proper retainer wear. We will fit you with an individualized retainer because your teeth will not stay straight if you do not wear your retainers as instructed. While the bone around the teeth can remodel in days, the gums and fibers supporting the teeth take around nine months to remodel in the new position. Even teeth that have not been moved with orthodontics will move from the force of biting, clenching, or grinding, so it is imperative to wear your retainers as instructed upon completing your treatment.

Immediately following your treatment, you will be asked to wear your retainers full-time, 24/7, only removing them to eat and brush, for a limited time, usually 8 weeks. After that time, Dr. Hough will tell you when you can start to wear your retainers only at nighttime. Retainers are a lifetime commitment. While you will reach a time when it won’t be as critical to wear your retainers every night, the retainers are your best tool to keep your teeth straight after braces. At no point in time will you ever stop wearing your retainers completely!

If you lose or break your retainers, you should call the office immediately so we can make arrangements to repair or make new retainers before your teeth shift. If you wait, your beautiful, straight smile may become crooked and a retainer may not be able to fix the problem completely without the help of some braces or clear aligners (which may mean additional expense).

If your teeth have begun to shift and start to misalign again, sometimes, we can straighten your teeth with a special removable appliance, but sometimes we must use braces for a short time to ensure straight teeth. After Dr. Hough sees you, he will be able to determine what is needed to correct the shifting.

Retainer Care

Once you have your retainers, Dr. Hough and his staff will instruct you on when to wear your retainers. It is imperative that you follow the instructions to prevent your teeth from shifting and to properly care for your retainers:

  • Brush your retainers regularly with cool water and hand soap (not toothpaste).
  • Retainers belong in your case when not in your mouth to prevent loss or breakage.
  • Never leave a retainer or the cases where pets or young children can reach them.
  • NEVER wrap your retainer in a napkin-they get thrown away.
  • Don’t put the retainer in your pocket, without the case. When you sit, you will bend and break them.
  • Take the retainer out to play contact sports.
  • Bring your retainer with you to each appointment.
  • Keep retainers out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources, such as toasters, hot cars, irons, coffee pots, blow dryers, etc.
  • If you lose or break your retainer, call the office immediately.
  • Keep them away from pets. Dogs and cats love to eat retainers.
  • If your retainer starts to discolor or get build up, you can soak it in plain white vinegar for five to ten minutes and brush with water and hand soap.

Retainer Types

There are numerous types of retainers to suit each patient’s needs: glued-in permanent retainers, clear tray retainers, and plastic and wire retainers.

Each retainer has benefits and drawbacks. Once patients are ready to finish treatment and are ready to finish the active phase of orthodontic treatment (when the braces come off and the retainers go on), Dr. Hough will make a recommendation to help you decide which retainers are right for you.

Some retainers last longer than others, some retainers are more discreet than others.

Clear retainers (similar to Invisalign) are a great alternative to show off that great smile while holding your teeth in their new straight position. These smaller clear retainers are easy to wear and you will get used to them very quickly.

Wire retainers allow patients to get creative and choose colors to make them more personal.

Permanent bonded retainers may be an option. These retainers have the benefit of being in place all the time behind your teeth. However, you must continue to limit your eating certain foods and cleaning is more difficult.

At Hough Orthodontics, we have our own laboratory on site in our office, drastically limiting wait times for retainers and allowing for more unique customization.