Orthodontic Retention

Dr. Hayley Woolfson and Dr. David Dubiner will determine the specific type and design of retainer that is best suited for you at the end of your treatment. How the patient’s dental condition initially presented, the type of orthodontic treatment that was carried out, and type of bite at the end of treatment contribute to the type of retainer that is treatment planned. The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you wear your orthodontic retainers as instructed. Keep these important patient responsibilities in mind:

Removable Orthodontic Retainers

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 stabilizing for several months after braces are removed, it is imperative that the retainers are worn as instructed. Poor compliance with retainer wear may result in undesirable movement of the teeth, which could necessitate re-treatment.

How Often to Wear Removable Retainers

Since teeth can continue to move throughout life, we feel that individuals who have undergone orthodontic therapy should wear their retainers indefinitely. Specific instructions for retainer wear will be given at the end of treatment. Often retainers are instructed to be worn full time at first and with time will be worn only at night to sleep.

How to Care for Removable Retainers
  • Some retainers are made of a thermoplastic material that is sensitive to excessive heat and need to be kept away from heaters, dishwashers, car dashboards or any place where the temperatures exceed 115º F
  • Some retainers are made of a combination of plastic and metal and are susceptible to bending and breaking, so avoid excessive force
  • Retainers should be kept in the proper retainer case when they are not in the patient’s mouth to prevent loss or breakage
  • 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.

Since retainers are worn for years, they may need maintenance and 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 Orthodontic Retainers (Non-Removable)

This type of retainer is fixed in place and bonded to the teeth from behind. The fixed wire will protect the teeth from shifting over time. Similar to removable retainers, fixed retainers may require maintenance, repair or replacement if the retainer bends, breaks or becomes loose.

It is imperative to maintain excellent oral hygiene around fixed retainers to prevent plaque and tartar build-up and maintain healthy teeth and gums. Please have this wire monitored by your family dentist at your six-month check-ups. If your family dentist recommends removal of your fixed retainer due to poor care, please schedule an appointment with us to have the wire removed and replaced with a removable retainer. The removable retainer should then be worn as Dr. Woolfson and Dr. Dubiner prescribe.

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

During orthodontic retention, patients should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, including thorough brushing and flossing techniques. The patient should continue to see his or her family dentist at least every six months for cleaning and dental examinations.