The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you keep these important patient responsibilities in mind:

Removable Retainers

Once your active orthodontic appliances are removed, you will receive retainers to stabilize your dental corrections.  Because the bone and soft tissues surrounding your teeth are stabilizing for several months after your braces are removed, it is imperative that your retainers are worn as instructed.  Failure to wear your retainers may result in undesirable movement of your teeth, which could necessitate re-treatment.

How retainers are worn

Because teeth can continue to move throughout life, we feel that individuals who have undergone orthodontic therapy should wear retainers indefinitely.  A patient should wear retainers all the time for six months to one year following the removal of their braces.  This is to prevent any unwanted tooth movement.

If you clench or grind your teeth do not wear your retainers while sleeping since your bite may change.

If you skip some time wearing your retainers and they feel tight when you place them back in, that means that you shouldn’t skip that much time without wearing your retainers.

If your retainers are not tight when you place them back in, then you are okay to continue wearing your retainers on a part time basis.  This will be how you learn how much you can safely cut back on the amount of retainer wear that you need.

Everyone is different.  Some people can cut back on retainer wear sooner than others and only you can figure out how much you need to wear your retainers to keep your teeth straight.

After the first year, wear your retainer at least one night per week.  This is because as you get older, the muscles that surround your teeth will get tighter and place pressure on your teeth, causing them to move or crowd.

Retainers don’t last a lifetime, but you really should invest in long term retainer wear and replacement over the years to keep your teeth straight.  Teeth will always want to move.  That can only be controlled with retainers.

So, if you need more retainers beyond what we have provided, we will be happy to help you keep your teeth straight long term with some additional retainers down the road and discuss these longer term options available for purchase.

How to care for retainers

  • Retainers are made of a thermoplastic material that is sensitive to excessive heat, so they should be kept away from heaters, dishwashers, car dashboards or any place where the temperatures exceed 115 degrees (Fº).
  • Retainers should be kept in the proper retainer case when they are not in your mouth.
  • Keep retainers away from any family pets, as they like to chew on them.
  • Clean your retainers before and after placement in your mouth.  Because the material used for retainer fabrication is slightly porous, plaque tends to cling to the surfaces.  Gentle scrubbing with a toothbrush and a toothpaste will remove the plaque.  A denture cleaning solution such as Efferdent will aid in the removal of plaque and tartar.  Be sure to rinse your retainers thoroughly after cleaning to remove any cleanser residue!

Because retainers are worn for years, they will need periodic replacement.  Your original treatment contract includes one set of retainers after your treatment is done.  If your retainers are lost or damaged, or if your retainers become loose or break, contact our office immediately.  There is a charge to replace retainers.

Fixed retainers (Bonded Wire)

Sometimes, a wire is cemented directly to your teeth as a retainer.  This wire should stay on forever.  The only exception is if your family dentist says you are not keeping it clean and it is beginning to cause gum or bone problems.

The fixed wire will protect your teeth as you get older and your facial muscles get tighter.  Please have this wire monitored by your family dentist at your six-month check ups.

If your fixed wire becomes loose, please contact us for a repair appointment.  There is a fee associated with any repair.

If your general dentist recommends the removal of your fixed wire retainer, please have the wire removed by your dentist or by Dr. McCoy and replace it with a removable retainer .  The removable retainer should then be worn as Dr. McCoy prescribes.

Habits or Conditions that Require Stronger Retention

  • Mouth breathing
  • Clenching and/or grinding of teeth (muscle hyperactivity)
  • Tongue thrusting, low tongue posture or abnormal tongue posture
  • Playing a musical instruments with a reed
  • Lip sucking
  • Pen or pencil biting
  • Spacing between the teeth prior to treatment
  • Severely rotated teeth

Our goal is to help your smile stay beautiful and healthy for a lifetime.  Your cooperation is essential in order to achieve this goal.

Dental examinations and cleanings

You should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home including thorough brushing and flossing techniques.  You should see your family dentist at least every six months for cleaning and dental examinations.