The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you wear your retainers. We encourage wearing retainers for as long and as often as possible. We want your smile to stay beautiful and straight for years to come! To make sure that happens, you have important responsibilities as a patient post-treatment, which are outlined below.
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 solidifying and being stabilized 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 lead to re-treatment.
How Orthodontic Retainers are Worn
Because teeth can continue to move throughout life, we recommend that individuals who have undergone orthodontic therapy should wear retainers indefinitely. A patient should wear retainers as much as possible for 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. Steven Billings, Dr. Branson Billings and Dr. Duncan Billings 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.
Once your wisdom teeth have been evaluated and a course of action has been decided upon, wear your orthodontic retainer at least one night per week. This is because, 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.
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.
Because retainers are worn for years, they will need periodic replacement. Your original treatment contract includes one set 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. The only exception is if your family dentist says you are not keeping it clean and it is beginning to cause 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. Billings 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 checkups.
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, including thorough brushing and flossing techniques. The family dentist should see the patient at least every six months for cleaning and dental examinations.