Orthodontic Retention

orthodontic retention

You've worked hard for your super smile.   Now keep it that way!

Your braces have been removed and your smile looks great!  However, your orthodontic journey isn't quite completed.  You'll have to wear retainers to preserve and stabilize your results. They are used after treatment to hold teeth in their correct alignment while the surrounding gums, bone, and muscle adjust to the new positioning of your teeth.  The teeth will move without retainers requiring re-treatment, usually with braces again.

Types of Retainers

Retainers are custom-made in our laboratory and can be removable or bonded permanently in place.

  • IRs:  Invisible retainers (we call them IRs for short) fit over the teeth to preserve the treatment.  We always use these immediately after braces are removed and only switch to a different type if we see a special need.  Retainers are always used 24 hours per day for the first four months after treatment.  We like IRs because:
    • They are clear and nearly invisible.
    • They can be made in less than a day so teeth don’t get a chance to wander once the braces come off.
    • They are thin for comfort and minimal effect on speech.
  • We usually replace these retainers with one of several different types after about 4 months.  They may be removable or bonded in place permanently.
  • Bonded retainers consist of wires bonded behind the bottom and/or top teeth.   It is often kept in place for life although can be removed by the orthodontist or dentist at any time.  This is almost always an option for the lower front teeth and sometimes for the uppers.

Things to know about retainers

  • You will have a case for your retainer.  Put it in the case when out for brushing or eating.  Never wrap it in a napkin or leave it around the house out of the case.  People will throw away the napkin not knowing the retainer is in it and dogs love to chew retainers when they are not in their case.
  • Fixed retainers are 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 they have to be worn.
  • Retainers are kept clean in 2 ways.  The first is to clean the retainer well and the second is to clean the teeth before placing the retainer.  When unable to brush after eating, find a way to rinse well before replacing your retainer.