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What do I need to consider when using a retainer?

There are a few basic things to consider for proper use and maintenance of your retainer 

Wear the retainer as directed – This phase of treatment is critical. The hard work has been done, the braces are off and now it is tempting not to wear the retainer as often as the orthodontist recommends.  Retainers are needed to give the muscles, tissues and bones time to stabilize the teeth in their new alignment.  Failure to wear the retainer as directed can have regrettable consequences, such as teeth returning to their original position, added expense and lost time. Your retainers should be easy to place and remove.  A tight retainer means that you have not worn it enough.  Increasing the amount of time you wear your retainers should help improve this.  Loose retainers can be tightened by your orthodontist so call the office for an appointment. 

Don’t lose the appliance – Removable retainers are very easy to lose.  It is advisable to place your retainer in the case it came in while eating, drinking and brushing.  Leaving a retainer folded in a napkin at a restaurant or in a public restroom can be very costly if lost because a replacement must be created.  A brightly colored case serves as a great reminder.  Replacement retainers are an additional expense and one that most insurance companies do not cover. 

Don’t eat or drink while wearing a retainer – It can be difficult and awkward to eat while wearing a removable retainer and it can also damage the device.  Food can get trapped under the Hawley (colored acrylic and wire) or Essex (a clear retainer that fits over the entire arch of teeth) between acrylic and gums, causing irritation of tissue and foul odor on retainer.  

Clean the retainer properly – Removable retainers can become breeding grounds for calculus and bacteria.  It is essential to clean the inside and outside thoroughly as often as possible.  Hawley retainers can be cleaned with a toothbrush and toothpaste daily.  Also, rinse your retainers with cool water each time you remove them from your mouth.  This will remove saliva and reduce the build up of tartar on the retainer.  When saliva is not removed it will dry onto the retainer and appear white in color.  If this occurs, soaking the retainer in undiluted white vinegar will remove the white build up.  Heavier build up will require a longer soaking period.  Rinse and brush your retainer and it will look, smell and feel fresh again.

How long do I need to wear my retainers? – Wear retainers at night to maintain your straight teeth and to ensure a lifelong beautiful smile.

If you have any questions or concerns about retainers, please contact our office.