Congratulations on having your braces removed! This is an exciting day! This, however, is not the end of orthodontics. Once the teeth have been moved to their new position, they need to be held for an extended period of time. Holding the teeth is an extremely important part of orthodontic treatment. The teeth are held in this new position by retainers. Retainers allow the bone around the teeth to become reorganized so that it holds the teeth in their new position.
The upper retainer is removable and must be worn Full-Time until Dr. Sorensen gives different instructions. If the retainer is not worn all the time, the teeth will move.
Helpful hints for maintaining your removable retainers:
- Wear the retainers all the time. When the retainers are in the mouth they are doing their job of holding the teeth. When the retainers are in the mouth they will also not get lost, damaged, or thrown away. There is a replacement charge for lost or broken retainers so BE CAREFUL!
- It is not unusual for the teeth to be somewhat sore for the first day or two the retainers are worn. This is because the retainers are still pushing the teeth. If uncomfortable, an Advil or Tylenol is suggested. The retainers will typically become less stiff as body heat warms the plastic.
- Anytime the retainers are out of the mouth they need to be placed into the protective case provided. These cases prevent the retainers from being crushed.
- Be very careful of dogs. The retainers have been in the mouth so they smell like food. As such, dogs love retainers. Even if the retainers are in their case, dogs will chew through the case to get to the retainers. Please make sure that cases are not left where dogs can get to them.
- Cleaning retainers. The retainers can be cleaned with toothpaste and a tooth brush. Do Not Boil the retainer or place them in a dish washer (avoid all types of excess heat). Heat will cause the plastic material will distort.
- Retainers are designed to hold the teeth in the new position. They are NOT designed to prevent tooth grinding. Some people have a tendency to place large amounts of force on the teeth. If holes or cracks begin to appear in the retainer then we know that retainers are being subjected to a large amount of force. We will typically recommend discussing some type of a night guard appliance with your dentist.
- Lost or broken retainers. If a retainer is lost or broken, please call the office immediately. If the braces have been removed recently, the teeth can undergo a large amount of movement. As such, please call so it can be determined if and when a replacement retainer can be fabricated. There will be a charge for a replacement retainer.
Most patients who have undergone full orthodontic treatment (braces on all the teeth) will receive a permanent lower retainer. These teeth on the bottom are most likely to undergo further crowding over time. As such, this permanent retainer aims to prevent this movement.
These lower retainers will be maintained for a long period of time. If the patient or the dentist would like the permanent retainer removed there is no charge for removal. A removable retainer may be suggested if the permanent retainer is removed to prevent shifting of the teeth.