I'm Done with Braces - What Now?
When braces are finally removed, the “retention” phase begins. The purpose of this phase is to use a retainer to make sure the teeth do not move back to their previous position. A retainer is a custom-made dental appliance, made by Dr. Day, that may be fixed or removable. Retainers are generally made from clear plastic and/or thin wires.
Retainers may be worn for a small amount of time, or for a very long period of time, depending on the type of orthodontic treatment and the age of the patient. Perseverance and commitment are required to make this final stage of treatment successful. If the retainer is not worn as directed, your orthodontic treatment can fail or take much longer than anticipated.
What do I need to know about using a retainer?
There are a few basic things to consider for proper use and maintenance of your retainer:
Don’t lose the appliance – Removable retainers are very easy to lose. While eating, drinking, and brushing, we HIGHLY recommend placing your retainer in the special case you were given. Do not put your retainer in a napkin at a restaurant or in a public restroom. Many, many retainers are lost in this way and they can be very costly to replace.
Don’t eat while wearing a retainer – It can be difficult and awkward to eat while wearing a removable retainer and it can also damage the device. Food can get trapped around a retainer wire or underneath the palate, causing bad breath.
Clean the retainer properly – It is essential to thoroughly clean the inside and outside of your retainer as often as possible. Retainers may be cleaned with a soft bristle toothbrush (separate from your regular toothbrush) and a small amount of liquid dish soap or hand soap. Do not use toothpaste because the abrasiveness can scratch and pit the plastic, causing holes for plaque and bacteria to accumulate.
Wear the retainer as directed – This phase of treatment is critical. The hard work of wearing braces is done. Although it is tempting not to wear the retainer as often as recommended, retainers give the muscles, tissues, and bones time to stabilize in their new position. Failure to wear the retainer as directed can cause the teeth to return to their original position, which adds expense, lost time, and frustration.
If you have any questions or concerns about retainers, please feel free to contact our office at 517-393-8500.
Day Family Dental
Dr. Nathan Day, DMD • Dentist • Lansing, MI