Retention is the final and most important stage of orthodontic treatment. It is your responsibility to wear your retainers as instructed. By wearing your retainers, you will be rewarded with a beautiful smile for life!
Clear/invisible retainers – are the most popular form of retainers used in our office. Clear retainers are normally used in patients who are not missing any teeth and have good oral hygiene, at the time braces are removed.
Hawley retainers (with acrylic and wire) – may be necessary in patients who are missing teeth or have undergone jaw surgery. The acrylic of the retainer allows us to add a fake tooth to your retainer in order to hold the space normally occupied by the missing tooth or teeth; in addition, to providing a temporary esthetic solution. Once the missing teeth are replaced by your dentist, after orthodontic treatment, we can then look at making you clear retainers (an additional cost may be incurred). We can not stress enough, that retainers incorporating a fake tooth are not to be worn full time to simply fill in the gap, you must see your dentist to have a partial denture to replace the missing tooth/teeth during the day (and wear your Hawley retainer at night) or initiate implant or bridge replacement of the missing tooth immediately. If you are using your Hawley retainer full-time to fill in the space of the missing tooth/teeth and it breaks – an additional charge will be incurred to repair it. Sometimes Hawley retainers are used in patients who have undergone surgery of the jaws, especially widening of the upper jaw, as the stiff acrylic portion is necessary to maintain the bones in the proper position.
Fixed or bonded wire – may be used in cases that involved extreme crowding or spacing of the teeth before treatment. This wire is bonded to the inside or tongue surface of the front four or six teeth and it is not visible to anyone. If you receive a bonded wire, we will also make you upper and lower clear retainers. The clear/removable retainers simply snap over your upper and lower teeth, they are designed to hold your molar teeth in position; in addition, to serving as a safety precaution, should the bonded wire break. Bonded or fixed retainers do not have an unlimited lifetime guarantee – should your fixed retainer break sometime after orthodontic treatment is completed, there may be an associated fee to repair the wire. Please note: we can not place fixed retainers if a patient’s oral hygiene is poor at the time of braces removal, because the wire will not adhere properly to the teeth surfaces.
General retainer rules
Your retainers are designed to hold your teeth in their corrected positions until the bones and gums adapt to the change. Teeth are always shifting whether a person has had braces or not. Braces have interrupted this trend and without retainers, some shifting will occur. Thousands of research studies have been undertaken to study relapse or shifting of teeth following orthodontic treatment, despite this extensive research, we still have little knowledge as to what type of patients may be more prone to shifting, so the golden rule of retention – you can never wear your retainers too much or too long! You must wear the retainers exactly as you have been instructed; otherwise, your teeth will start to move back to their old positions and the benefits of wearing braces will be lost.
- Wear your retainers 8 consecutive hours or more every day for the first year. Patients who are either missing teeth or who have had jaw surgery will be required to wear their retainers 12 hours or more per day for the first year.
- Keep your retainers in the case provided when they are not in your mouth, store in a safe place. If your retainers are left out of the case, they may be accidentally thrown out, lost, or damaged by family pets, etc.
- Attend your retainer appointments at our office, they are important! We will see you 2 or 3 times over the first year following removal of your braces to monitor your progress and give you possible instruction on reducing the required frequency of wear.
- Keep your retainers clean by brushing them with toothpaste and using denture tablets 2 or 3 times a week to remove surface build-up and odours. Do not soak your retainers in hot water, as it could cause them to distort.
- Remove your retainers while playing contact sports and replace with a sports mouth guard.
- If your dentist intends on doing a filling or adjusting the shape of your teeth in anyway, take your retainers to the dental appointment so they can check the fit after completion of the work or call our office to arrange an appointment for us to check your retainers afterwards.
- If you have your wisdom teeth removed, only take one or two nights off (maximum) and start wearing your retainers again. Please remember, the area from where your wisdom teeth were removed is not close to your retainers, so retainer wear should resume promptly the following evening.
- If you loose or break your retainers, contact us as soon as possible to have a new one made. As the teeth can shift quickly!
- If you feel that your teeth are moving or your retainer does not fit properly, contact us as soon as possible.
One set of retainers is included in your treatment fee; if you loose or break your retainers an additional cost will be incurred.
After one year of monitoring the retention phase of your treatment in our office, we will ask you to continue wearing your retainers for 5-7 nights a week during year two, followed by a gradual reduction in wear over several years. However, we encourage patients to still wear their retainers 8 or more nights a month several years after treatment and indefinitely to ensure no shifting will occur. It is your responsibility to ‘self-monitor’ for shifting and you will know if your retainers are not fitting exactly, that you are not wearing them enough. If this is the case, you should go back to wearing them every night until they do; in addition, to notifying our office and arranging an appointment for a retainer check. You may decide that you will accept some changes in your teeth as you age and stop wearing the retainers altogether. This is a personal decision and if made, you must be willing to accept some shifting with natural ageing. Please remember, you can never go wrong if you continue to wear your retainers every night for several years after treatment.
There is only one way that your retainers will not fit properly; you have not worn them as instructed or followed the guidelines above! So please do not tell us that you have worn them as instructed if they do not fit, remember we are the experts and know the difference. Please remember that we are always here for you, and if you have any problems at all with your retainers, please contact us as soon as possible because shifting will only get worse with time and may result in the need for re-treatment at an additional cost. Honour your own hard work by wearing your retainers, and reward yourself with a fantastic smile for life!