Retention and Retainers

The Importance of Retainers

Congratulations! We will remove your braces soon to unveil a beautiful smile. You are about to enter the most important phase of treatment-Retention Phase. This page will provide information on retention and retainer wear.

 Completion of orthodontic treatment does not guarantee straight teeth for life. Your teeth will often attempt to move back to original position. Retainers are required to keep your teeth in their current position.  Regular retainer wear is necessary for lifetime as your body is continuously undergoing changes. Minor irregularities, particularly in the lower front teeth may occur. In summary, you need to wear retainers to keep your teeth as straight as possible. However, even with good retainer wear your teeth may shift slightly.

Clear Retainer Information and FAQs

A clear retainer is a thin and transparent retainer made from the model of your teeth. Modern Orthodontist use the best material to provide a retainer that is comfortable and durable. At end of the treatment, you will be given a set of clear retainers. Extra sets of retainers are available for purchase at a reduced fee prior to debond appointment. This is highly recommended! Loss/misplacement of retainer is one of the most common reasons for relapse. Purchasing retainer at later time will be less ideal and more costly.

General instruction for clear retainers (unless otherwise specified by the doctor):

  • Wear your clear retainer every night (8-12 hours)
  • Cannot eat or drink anything with the retainer, except pure water.
  • Clean your retainers with toothbrush before and after use.
  • Insert from front to back, do not bite the retainer down
  • Remove retainer from back to the front. Make sure both sides are loose in the back first.
  • Keep the retainers in their cases, away front pets, and heat.
  • If you get large fillings or crowns, a new retainer may be needed

Clear Retainers FAQs

I forgot/didn’t wear my retainer.
  • When you are not wearing your retainer, your teeth is shifting. The amount of shifting is determined by many factors such as age, initial condition, and when the braces was taken off. The good news is that the clear retainer may fix MINOR Issues, if you only forgot for a day or two. If you can fit your retainer in with no/mild discomfort, wear the retainer for all day till the teeth are straight again. once the teeth are straight again then resume nightly wear.
  • If you did not wear retainer for extended amount of time or the retainer no longer fit without great discomfort, please contact us. The teeth may have shifted beyond the limitation for the clear retainer. A new retainer based on current position or new treatment is needed.
  • A fixed retainer drastically reduces teeth shifting in the anterior, please see information provided.
I lost my retainer or something destroyed my retainer.
  • Wearing your backup retainer. This is the best option, please consider purchasing at debond.
  • Email us as soon as possible, we can make you a new retainer.
  • Prolonged time without retainer will result in the need for new treatment.
How long does the retainer last? I grind at night.
  • The material we use has great durability and comfort. Everyone is different but if the retainer is well taken care of you will get years of usage out of it.
  • If you grind heavily at night, please inform the doctor and thicker/harder material may be used.

Fixed Retainer Information

Fixed retainer is a piece of wire that is glued on to the back of the front teeth to keep them in place. It is often called “permanent retainer”.

Benefit of fixed retainer

  • Fixed retainer will maintain anterior teeth alignment without relying on patient compliance.
  • May be necessary if patient had severe crowding or spacing.
  • Great as a backup if you forget/lose your retainer for a short duration.

Problems with fixed retainer

  • Flossing under fixed retainer requires a great amount of effort and time. If fixed retainer is chosen because patient is not compliant with clear retainer, then it is harder to be compliant with fixed retainer’s cleaning/maintenance. If not cleaned/flossed regularly, significant calculus can accumulate around the wire, possibly leading to cavities and decalcification. The tarter/calculus accumulation can also contribute to gingivitis.
  • Despite often being referred as permanent retainer, fixed retainer does break. Fixed retainer can come off one or multiple teeth or the wire can break. Often patient only notice that their fixed retainer is broken once their teeth are already shifted. When a fixed retainer becomes detached from a tooth or teeth, the orthodontist may repair the retainer by readhering it to the tooth/teeth with new composite. This repair is often not as strong as the original bonding due to the fact it may be impossible to completely remove old composite, among other reasons. The repaired/replace retainer will likely not last as long
  • Fixed retainer only retains the front teeth. Without a clear retainer the back teeth will still move.
  • Fixed retainer may not be possible on top arch because of occlusion.

General instruction for fixed retainer:

  • Floss and clean around fixed retainers nightly
  • Monitor the fixed retainer for integrity and will call my orthodontist if I notice a tooth has moved or the wire is no longer intact.
  • Avoid biting into hard things with my front teeth
  • Wear clear retainer on top of the fixed retainer as instructed.
Fixed retainer