Once the active period is completed, your braces are removed. The next step is called retention. Retainers are utilized to 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. You worked hard to gain the space that was needed, and now your retainer will hold that space. If you miss even one night with your retainer, then some of the width could be lost. If the width is lost, we may have to put your expander back in. So, WEAR YOUR RETAINER.
The first retainers you will receive are temporary "vacuform" retainers. These are clear plastic retainers that will hold everything in place while your permanent retainers are being made. You will wear these at night time only while you sleep. Make sure that you wear them EVERY night! Keep this set of retainers even after you have received your permanent ones; you can use them for a back-up in case you permanent ones are ever lost.
Dr. Way 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 and should not be neglected!
In general, we inform patients to wear their retainers at nighttime only. Patients should wear their retainers every night until 21 years of age. Then, the number of nights can be slowly reduced to one night a week. If you are one of our many adult patients, you will be instructed on the number of nights to wear your retainer, based on your particular situation. Research has shown that retainers should be worn at least one night a week forever if you want to ensure that there will be no tooth movement.
Remember, wear them in your mouth, not in your pocket. Retainers work when you follow our instructions.
Clean your retainers! After meals, clean all parts of the retainer with a brush. When you wake up in the morning, brush your retainer, rinse it off, and keep it in your retainer case. Do not take it to school - it could get lost or broken!
Handle your retainers with care. Retainers are easy to lose. If you take your retainers out, always place them in your retainer case for safety. The number one cause of broken retainers is PETS! Your retainers smell like you, and your pets love you - so, they will carry your retainers off and chew on them. Make sure your retainers are always in your retainer case when they are not in your mouth and that the retainer case is where your pets cannot get to it. Click here for more information on caring for your retainers.
Note to Parents:
As your child loses baby teeth and the permanent teeth start to come in, the retainer may need to be adjusted. If your child says that the retainer "doesn't fit" or "feels funny", please call us right away. We will be happy to adjust it for you, and then your child will not have to go without wearing his or her retainer.