Orthodontic Retainers

The benefits of your investment in orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you wear your retainers. Keep these important patient responsibilities in mind:

Removable Retainers

Once your braces or aligners are removed, you will receive retainers to stabilize the dental correction, and keep your smile looking beautiful. Because the bone and soft tissues surrounding the teeth are stabilizing for several months after braces are removed, it is imperative that the retainers are worn as instructed. Failure to wear the retainers may result in undesirable movement of the teeth, which could result in needing additional treatment.  

How Orthodontic Retainers are Worn

Your teeth can continue to move throughout your entire life. Because of this, we recommend that you wear your retainer for one full year after your braces are removed.

After approximately one year, you can remove your retainer during the day, and only wear it while you sleep. This process allows your wisdom teeth to continue to develop, without ruining your new smile. Dr. Michael Ragan will see you every six to nine months to make recommendations on your wisdom teeth, and an X-ray will be taken every one and a half years.

Once the wisdom teeth have been decided on, you will need to wear your orthodontic retainer at least one night per week. As you get older, the muscles that surround your teeth will get tighter and place pressure on your teeth, causing them to move or crowd. Wearing your retainer on a regular basis prevents this tightening and crowding from affecting your new smile. 

How to Care for Orthodontic Retainers

  • Retainers are made of a thermoplastic material that is sensitive to excessive heat, so they should be kept away from heaters, dishwashers, car dashboards or any place where the temperatures exceed 115 degrees (Fº).
  • Retainers should be kept in the proper retainer case when they are not in the patient’s mouth.
  • Keep away from any family pets or younger siblings.
  • Always clean your retainer before placing it in your mouth, as well as before placing it in your case. The material used is slightly porous and plaque tends to cling to the surfaces. Gentle scrubbing with a toothbrush and a mild liquid soap will remove the plaque. A denture-cleaning solution, such as Efferdent, will aid in the removal of plaque and tartar. Be sure to rinse the retainers thoroughly after cleaning to remove any cleanser residue.

Since retainers are worn for many years, they will need periodic replacement. Your original treatment contract includes one set of retainers. If your retainers are lost or damaged due to neglect, there will be a charge for replacement. If they become loose or break, please contact our office immediately.

Fixed Retainers (Bonded Wire)

This wire should stay on indefinitely. The only exception to that is whether your dentist recognizes that it is causing gum or bone problems. If this should occur, please have the wire removed, and replace it with a removable retainer. The removable retainer should then be worn as Dr. Ragan prescribes. The fixed wire will protect the teeth as the patient gets older and your facial muscles get tighter. Please have this wire monitored by your dentist at your six-month checkups.

Habits or Conditions that Require Stronger Retention

  • Mouth breathing.
  • Clenching and grinding of teeth (muscle hyperactivity).
  • Tongue thrusting, low tongue posture or abnormal tongue posture.
  • Playing a musical instrument with a reed.
  • Lip sucking.
  • Pen or pencil biting.
  • Spacing between the teeth prior to treatment.
  • Severely rotated teeth.

Our goal is to help your smile stay beautiful and healthy for a lifetime. Your cooperation is essential in order to achieve this goal.

Dental Examinations and Cleanings

The patient should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, including thorough brushing and flossing techniques. His or her family dentist should see the patient at least every six months for cleaning and dental examinations.