Once your orthodontic treatment has concluded, Dr. Black will give you a retainer specific to your needs. Retainers keep your teeth in their new positions. Most people must use some kind of retainer for the rest of their lives to maintain their beautiful new smile. We will need to monitor your retainer periodically. Although we can do small adjustments to correct little things, the retainer won’t work unless you wear it as instructed and your teeth may move. Yikes!
Bonded retainers are actually small wires glued behind your upper or lower front teeth. This wire takes the place of a retainer that you would take in and out. It doesn’t lock teeth in place but prevents movement of more than the small length of wire between each tooth. It’s very strong, but eating ice or other hard foods can break the little pads of glue that hold it in place. It’s also very important to brush and floss around the retainer to remove plaque, which dissolves the glue and can cause it to come loose. If you notice a loose glue pad, call the office immediately to repair it before your teeth start moving.
Clear retainers hold the teeth very well and are extremely thin, making them more comfortable than traditional wire and plastic retainers. You must wear them 24 hours a day for the first year. Afterward, you can wear them just at night. The plastic can melt if left in the sun or near a hot surface. We recommend you place a few drops of fluoride mouth rinse in the retainer’s indentations before putting it in your mouth to keep it fresh.
A Damon splint is a special type of retainer that holds both tooth alignment and bite correction at the same time. It’s worn only at night and is a critical part of your treatment. Initially, we ask that you wear it for 4 hours during the day (doesn’t have to be in a row) and then from after dinner until morning (12 hours). After you become accustomed to wearing the Damon splint, you will only have to wear it when sleeping.
Positioners are a special orthodontic device that look like a sports mouth guard (and can be used as one if needed). Positioners have been used with great results for almost 100 years. It’s designed to perform the final alignment of your teeth and your bite. After your braces come off it must be worn 24 hours a day for the first seven (7) days (except when eating and brushing). After that, you need to wear it for 4 hours during the day (does not have to be 4 hours in a row) and then from after dinner until morning (12 hours). Like any other retainer, the positioner will make your teeth very sore for the first two or three days. Remember that for it to work properly you must chew into it—simply having it in your mouth will not do the job.
Traditional retainers (also called Hawley retainers) are traditional wire and plastic retainers. We use this type of retainer if Dr. Black expects he will need to do multiple adjustments. You must wear it 24 hours a day for the first year and afterward you can wear it just at night. If for any reason you can’t wear your Hawley retainer for a long period of time, keep it moist! If the plastic dries out completely, your retainer will warp and no longer fit. You may then need to replace it.
Taking care of your retainer
Although not fragile, you can damage your retainer and should keep it in its case when not in your mouth (which, of course, is the only place it will do its job). You should thoroughly brush your retainer whenever you brush your teeth. You may wish to use a denture cleaner to occasionally soak the retainer and remove any deposits or bad tastes. Any time you’re not wearing your retainer, it should be in its case. With a little care, your retainer will help keep your smile beautiful for many, many years.