You’ve worked hard for your beautiful smile so let’s keep it that way!

Finally, your braces have been removed and your smile is beautiful, straight, and best of all, metal-free! However, your orthodontic journey isn’t quite completed. To keep your smile looking its best, you’ll have to wear a retainer to preserve and stabilize your results. Retainers are needed to control or limit potential changes in tooth position. They are used after braces treatment or Invisalign treatment to hold teeth in their correct alignment while the surrounding gums, bone, and muscle adjust to the new positioning of your teeth.

Types of Retainers

Retainers (Removable)

Once orthodontic treatment is complete, you will be given a retainer to wear to hold the teeth in their final position. Traditional removable retainers typically include a metal wire that surrounds the front teeth and is attached to an acrylic arch that sits in the roof of the mouth. The metal wires can be adjusted to finish treatment and continue minor movement of the front teeth as needed.

Aligner-style retainers, or Essix retainers, look similar to clear aligners and offer a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. This type of retainer is produced from an impression of your newly aligned teeth.

  • Wear your retainer at all times (except when eating, brushing and flossing), until the doctor instructs otherwise.
  • Take your retainer out when eating, and always put it back in its case! Retainers are most often lost in eating places such as school lunch areas or restaurants.
  • Whenever your retainer is not in your mouth, it should always be put in its case. This will avoid loss or damage…especially because pets love to chew on them!
  • Remove your retainer and place it in your case when you go swimming.
  • Keep your retainer clean by brushing it twice a day with a toothbrush, toothpaste and cold water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and eliminates odors.
  • Efferdent® or other orthodontic appliance cleaners or denture cleaners can be used but do not take the place of brushing.
  • Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, glove compartments, pockets, and the washing machines.
  • Never put your retainer in a napkin because it may end up in the trash inadvertently.
  • Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to speaking with your retainers more quickly
  • Retainers are breakable, so treat yours with care. If your retainer gets lost or broken, please call us immediately.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about your retainer, or you believe it needs adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust it yourself.
  • Remember, always bring your retainer to your appointments.

Retainer replacements are expensive, but with proper care they will last for years!

Retainers (Fixed or Bonded)

In addition to a removable retainer, patients may also receive a fixed, or bonded retainer. Fixed retainers consist of wires bonded behind the lower and/or upper 6 front teeth. It is often kept in place for life so it is very important to brush and floss around this retainer (a floss threader is very helpful). If you notice a piece of the retainer becomes loose, please call and schedule an appointment immediately, otherwise a tooth may move out of alignment. If you decide to have the fixed retainer removed, please consult the orthodontist first to determine if another type of retainer will be needed.

Pros and Cons

Removable retainers can be taken out for eating and hygiene routines.

Removable retainers can get lost easily, so remember to keep yours in the case whenever you remove it to eat or brush.

A fixed retainer is great if you don’t want to keep track of it, or if you don’t want to worry about how many hours per day it must be worn.

Teeth with fixed retainers require a little extra attention to remove tartar while flossing. Patients with fixed retainers often must use floss threaders to pass dental floss through the small spaces between the retainer and the teeth. Ask Dr. Shamlian which type of retainer is best for you.