Let’s talk retainers!
All patients, regardless of their age, their duration of treatment, and what appliances were used, will need to wear an orthodontic retainer at the conclusion of their treatment with Dr. Keith Koch.
No doubt you have questions about retainer wear and care, and we have answers! Keep the post handy for all topics retainer-related!
Why Do I Need To Wear a Retainer When I Get My Braces Off?
A perfectly fine question to ask! Retainers are important to “retain” the results of orthodontic treatment after your appliances have been removed. A person’s gums contain fibers that are stretched when teeth are moved into new positions. Those fibers are still remodeling around the moved teeth when you get your braces off.
Think of stretching a rubber band in your hands – release the band, and it snaps back to its original position. There’s a similar science with the fibers in your gums. The immediate period after you have your braces off presents the greatest chance your teeth will revert back to their original positions. As such – you wear a retainer!
What Type of Retainer Will I Be Issued After I Get My Braces off?
Typically, patients will receive a distinct retainer for their lower teeth and upper teeth.
For the lower teeth (you may hear us use the term “lower retention”), the standard appliance is a fixed wire retainer that is bonded discreetly behind the lower front teeth. After a number of years, some patients may elect to replace this appliance with a removable, Invisalign-type of appliance called an “Essix Retainer.”
An Essix Retainer is commonly used for the retention of your upper teeth. Like Invisalign, it’s molded to fit your teeth and provides a discreet, “barely-there” look. Also similar to Invisalign, your commitment to wearing your Essix retainer as directed will have a major impact on your teeth staying in their new positions.
How Long Do I Need to Wear My Essix Retainer? When Can I Take It Out?
Essix retainers typically are to be worn nights while sleeping, and are to be worn for several years.
We understand this may sound like a big commitment, but – as we stated earlier – teeth are at their most susceptible to shift immediately after your orthodontic appliances are removed. Adherence to these wear guidelines is a must. And trust us when we say we can tell when a patient is not wearing their retainer as often as they claim!
Because every patient is different, Dr. Koch may need to prescribe specific instructions and protocol for your retainer wear based on your specific orthodontic needs.
My Retainer “Feels Funny” in my mouth / is causing me discomfort. What Should I Do?
As with your orthodontic appliances, it may take you a few days to get comfortable with the new feeling of the appliance in your mouth. If you are in pain, however, or if you feel your retainer is not fitting properly, please call our office at (585) 243-3174 immediately so we can schedule and perform a retainer check.
How Should I Clean My Retainer, And How Often?
We recommend giving your retainer a cleaning once a week using a soft-bristled toothbrush using either cool to lukewarm water or a “paste” of water and baking soda. Try to avoid too hot a water temperature (think “scalding” or “boiling”) as well – it may warp your retainer, causing it to be ill-fitting in your mouth.
Regularly soaking your retainer for at least 20 minutes will help prevent plaque build-up and discoloration You can use a white vinegar/water mixture, a denture cleanser, or Retainer Brite.
After soaking your retainer, be sure to thoroughly rinse it before seating it back in your mouth.
What Should I do with my retainer when it is not being worn?
We will issue you a case – when your retainer is not in your mouth, it is to be secured in that case. This is the most sure-fire way to avoid retainer loss or breakage, and the costs associated with retainer replacement. (Replacement retainer cases are available at our office at no charge!)
Different Smiles, Similar Goals
There are variables for what type of retainer appliance a patient is issued, and how long they’ll need to wear that appliance. Everyone’s goal with retainer wear, however, is the same – maintain the straight, healthy smile you worked hard to achieve! Follow the retainer wear guidelines as advised by Dr. Koch, and contact our office if you have problems. We want your smile to succeed!