What is a retainer?
A retainer is a ‘holding brace’. All patients need to wear retainers after treatment. They can either be removable (also known as an Essix) or fixed (also known as permanent retainer, splint, wire or bar) to the teeth. You will be advised which retainer you need.
Retainers are designed to keep your teeth straight and it is important that you wear them to prevent your teeth returning to their position prior to braces.
Why is it important that I wear a retainer?
Retainers are just as important as braces that straightened your teeth. Now that your teeth are straight, wearing your retainers as advised by your orthodontist is very important. If you do not, it is likely that your teeth will move.
How might a removable retainer affect me?
Your speech will be different at first. Practice speaking with the retainer in place e.g., read out loud at home on your own. Your speech should return to normal within a few days. You will also produce more saliva and may have to swallow more than normal for the first couple of days. This will settle down but it may be worth carrying a tissue or handkerchief with you.
A fixed retainer is glued to the back of your top and/or bottom teeth when your braces have been removed. You will need to take extra care to keep it clean and be careful when eating hard crunchy foods. Avoid biting pens as this may cause the fixed retainer to come off. It is impossible to say how long a fixed retainer will last, however you may incur a charge if there are repeated breakages.
How long do you need to wear a retainer for?
For as long as you want your teeth to stay straight!
After orthodontic treatment, all patients will require some form of retention. This is a ‘holding’ brace aimed to stabilise and maintain the achieved orthodontic treatment results. There are a number of different types of retainers and you will be advised during your assessment which retainer(s) is/are most suitable for you. A retainer may be ‘removable’, e.g. an Essix or Hawley retainer, which means it can be removed from the mouth. Alternatively, a retainer may be ‘fixed’ e.g. a bonded retainer, which is glued to the back of your front teeth and cannot be removed. You may require a combination of both types of retainers.
The only way to guarantee your teeth will not move after orthodontic treatment is to wear some form of retainer indefinitely.
Retainers - Your Questions Answered
How long will I have to wear retainers?
Retention is lifelong. You will be asked to wear your retainers for 6 months’ full time after your braces have been removed, followed by night time and evening wear for 6 months. After this you will be advised to continue night time wear for a minimum of 4-5 nights per week. It is likely that if you stop wearing your retainers your teeth will move.
The only way to have permanently straight teeth is to wear a retainer on a part-time basis for life.
Can I remove the retainer?
Yes, if the retainer is a removable type. However, if you have been asked to wear it full-time, then it should only be removed for cleaning you teeth, eating, drinking, contact sports and swimming. When it is not in your mouth it should be kept in a protective box.
Do not click the retainer in and out with your tongue as this can cause it to break or become loose. To remove your retainer, loosen it at the back of mouth working your way forward to the front of the retainer to remove it. Do not pull your retainer at the front of your mouth as this will weaken it and cause it to fracture.
What about cleaning your retainer?
- Take the removable retainer out.
- Use cold water and your toothbrush to clean your retainer.
- You may use soapy water from time to time to freshen up the retainer.
- DO NOT USE HOT WATER.
- Avoid cleaning the retainer with toothpaste as it is too abrasive and will damage the retainer.
What about tooth brushing?
Take the removable retainer out to clean your teeth.
- It is important that you brush your teeth well for at least 2 minutes, 2-3 times a day.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean in between the teeth using floss or Tepe brushes.
- Use alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash once daily, ideally anytime other than directly after brushing. This will help to maintain fluoride protection. Avoid eating or rinsing for 20 minutes after use.
- Frequent sugary snacks and drinks plus poor oral hygiene will lead to permanent damage to your teeth.
How often will I now need to be reviewed?
You will need to be seen every 2-3 months for the first 12 months. After this you will be seen on a yearly basis.
Do I still need to see my regular dentist?
Yes. It will be important you still have check-ups with your regular dentist throughout orthodontic treatment so that your teeth can be checked for decay.
What do I do if I play contact sports?
Remove your retainer for playing contact sports and wear a mouthguard. This is also the case if you take part in activities requiring protective helmet e.g. horse riding. You may wish to have a new mouthguard now that you are wearing retainers.
Remove your retainer for swimming as well. The retainer should be kept in a protective box when you are not wearing it. Do not store your retainer in a tissue.
What do I do if my brace breaks or I lose it?
Contact the practice for an appointment as soon as possible. Do not wait for your next appointment as your teeth may move whilst you are not able to wear your retainers. You may incur a charge for a new retainer depending on the circumstances or the number of times you have lost or broken your retainer.
The above information has been taken from: The British Orthodontic Society website: www.bos.org.uk
Types of Retainers
- Clear plastic retainer
- Excellent aesthetics
- Removed for eating, drinking, sports and oral hygiene.
- Easy to clean
- Good aesthetics
- Allows bite ‘settling’
- Removed for eating, drinking, sports and oral hygiene.
- Easy to clean
- This is a wire glued to the back of the front teeth
- Cannot be removed
- Require excellent oral hygiene
- Some diet restrictions apply- You should avoid hard sticky foods such as chewing gum, popcorn, nuts and any other hard or chewy foods. You should also avoid biting into apples and hard crusty rolls.
Should I avoid certain foods/drinks?
If you have been given a removable retainer, then you should remove this for eating. You should take care to-
How much do Retainers Cost?
Prices vary depending on the treatment you need. Please discuss this with your dentist during your assessment. At Colm Smith Dental we provide our patients with the knowledge and expertise needed to get the best results.
Our pricing is competitive, and our dentists are highly skilled. Please see our price list below or call one of our practices in Cootehill and Monaghan to find out more.
Those with straight teeth were 45% more likely to get a job than those with crooked teeth when competing with someone with a similar skill set and experience
29% Notice Teeth First
Nearly one-third (29%) of Americans say the first aspect of someone's face they typically notice is his or her teeth, and 24% say this is also the facial aspect that they remember the most after meeting someone.
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Colm & Lucia Smith
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We have Dental Clinics in Cootehill in Cavan and also in Monaghan centre.