Orthodontic Retainers

Why wear retainers?

During your orthodontic treatment the bone and elastic tissues (the periodontal ligament) around your teeth are manipulated to allow the teeth to move into their new positions. When your braces are removed your mouth needs time to adjust to the new tooth positions and retainers allow this to happen in an orderly fashion.

What happens if I don’t wear retainers?

There is a very high chance that your teeth will move back to their original crowded position. The elastic tissues around your teeth pull the teeth back like elastic bands. The retainers provided allow the body to make new bone and elastic tissues in harmony with the new tooth positions.

Will my teeth stay straight forever?

Unfortunately, as we get older, there is a natural tendency for teeth to become crooked with time, especially your lower six front teeth. This is a natural ageing process, like changes that happen to your skin over time. The only way to prevent this is to wear retainers on a long term basis, for as long as you want perfectly straight teeth.

What type of retainer will I wear?

There are two main types of orthodontic retainers: those that are fixed to your teeth by your orthodontist and those that you can remove from your mouth. The type most appropriate depends on many factors. We will discuss your individual case and advise appropriately.

Removable Retainers

Removable retainers are made from plastic or a combination of plastic and metal. They should be removed from your mouth during eating, tooth brushing and sports. The advantage of this retainer is that it can be removed for cleaning and you can have confidence that if worn as directed by your orthodontist your teeth remain straight. Typically this retainer needs to be worn full time at the start of retention then nights only on a long term basis, even when you have been discharged from the clinic.

Removable ‘Hawley’ Retainer

Removable ‘Hawley’ Retainer

How do I keep my removable retainer clean?

Removable retainers should be cleaned daily, when you clean your teeth. They should be washed over a sink with cold water and cleaned with your tooth-brush and tooth paste. Take care to clean the fitting surface and be careful with the metal components.

Removable ‘Essix’ Retainer

Removable ‘Essix’ Retainer

Fixed Retainers

Fixed retainers are cemented to the inner surface of your teeth and are not visible to the eye. They have the advantage of being more cosmetic and less intrusive, however they need more care and maintenance. They are fitted in certain clinical situations dictated by your particular needs.

It is important that you check your fixed retainer and ensure it is correctly fixed to the teeth. You can do this gently with a tooth pick or your finger-nail. If the retainer becomes loose or is broken you must make an appointment to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Fixed Retainer

Fixed Retainer

How do I keep my fixed retainer clean?

Good tooth brushing around the fixed retainer is vital. Regular appointments with your dentist or hygienist are recommended especially if there is a tendency to get tartar deposits around your teeth.

It is also important that you clean between your teeth and the fixed retainer wire. Special types of dental floss, floss threaders and inter-dental brushes are available to do this.

You will be shown how to clean your retainer after it has been fitted.

What happens if my fixed retainer is damaged?

If part of the fixed retainer becomes loose and you are unaware of this, tooth movement can occur. This will spoil your tooth alignment and correction would require the replacement of fixed braces. Furthermore tooth decay can quickly form under the wire and cause tooth decay and a cavity.

Tooth decay and tooth movement due to a broken fixed retainer

Tooth decay and tooth movement due to a broken fixed retainer

What should I do If I loose or break my retainers?

If you loose or break your retainers, call the practice immediately to make an appointment for a replacement retainer.

How often do I need to get the fixed retainer checked by my orthodontist and dentist?

Your retainer will be periodically checked here after your fixed appliance is removed. After one year of retention supervision, you will be discharged from the clinic.

After you are discharged, you should regularly check your retainer. Your dentist can monitor your retainer at your routine dental checks. It is likely you will need professional tooth cleaning around your retainer as part of maintenance. If you require additional attention to your retainers this may be provided by your dentist or alternatively you can call our clinic.