The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you wear your orthodontic retainers. Keep these important patient responsibilities in mind:
Once the active orthodontic appliances are removed, the patient will receive retainers to stabilize the dental correction. Because the bone and soft tissues surrounding the teeth are stabilizing for several months to several years 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 necessitate re-treatment.
How Orthodontic Retainers are Worn
Because teeth can continue to move throughout life, we feel that individuals who have undergone orthodontic therapy should wear retainers indefinitely. A patient should wear retainers all the time for a minimum of one year following the removal of braces.
After approximately one year, the patient can wear the orthodontic retainer just at night. This is to allow the wisdom teeth to develop without ruining the patient’s beautiful smile. Dr. Alexander Kita will see you every six to nine months to make recommendations on the wisdom teeth and an X-ray will be taken every one and a half years to two years.)
Once the wisdom teeth have been decided on, wear your orthodontic retainer at least three to five nights per week. This is because, as you get older, the muscles and soft tissues that surround your teeth will get tighter and place pressure on your teeth, causing them to move or crowd.
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, as they like to chew on them.
- Clean before and after placement in the mouth. Because the material used for fabrication is slightly porous, 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. Failure to do so will cause early deterioration of the retainers and necessitate replacement at an extra cost as explained below.
Because retainers are worn for years, they will need periodic replacement. Your original treatment contract includes two sets of retainers after the braces are removed. If the retainers are lost or damaged due to neglect, there will be a charge for replacement. If the retainers become loose or break, contact our office immediately.
Fixed Retainers (Bonded Wire)
This wire should stay on forever. In addition, a removable retainer should be used over the top of the permanent retainer at night. This will aid in maintaining the relationship between anterior teeth and the posterior teeth. However, if your family dentist says you are not keeping your permanent retainer wire clean and is beginning to cause gum or bone problems, then it should be removed. The removable retainer should then be worn as Dr. Kita 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 family dentist at your six-month check-ups.
Habits or Conditions that Require Stronger Retention
- Mouth breathing
- Clenching and/or grinding of teeth (muscle hyperactivity)
- Tongue thrusting, low tongue posture or abnormal tongue posture
- Playing musical instruments 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, to include thorough brushing and flossing techniques. His or her family dentist should see the patient at least every six months for cleaning and dental examinations.