The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you keep these important patient responsibilities in mind:
Once the active orthodontic appliances are removed, the patient will receive retainers to stabilize the dental correction. Because the bone and soft tissues surrounding the teeth are stabilizing for several months after braces are removed, it is imperative that the retainers are worn as instructed. Failure to wear the retainers may result in undesirable movement of the 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 up to one year following the removal of braces. After one year, the patient can wear the retainers just at night.
Over time the frequency of retainer wear can decrease, but a tight retainer is a sign that teeth are shifting. Although patients are seen for retainer checks for one to 2 years following treatment, our doctors feel that you should continue to wear your retainers as long as you want to keep your teeth straight.
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 the patient’s mouth. They should also be kept away from any family pets, as they like to chew on them.
Retainers should be cleaned before and after placement in the mouth. Because the material used for fabrication is slightly porous, plaque tends to cling to the surfaces. Gentle scrubbing with a toothbrush and toothpaste or a mild liquid soap will remove the plaque. A denture cleaning solution, such as Efferdent, will aid in the removal of plaque and tartar. Be sure to rinse the 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 the braces are removed. If the retainers are lost or damaged due to neglect, there will be a charge for replacement. If the retainers become loose or break, contact our office immediately.
In some instances, a fixed bonded lingual retainer will be recommended in addition to a removable retainer. This type of retainer consists of a wire glued to the inside of the teeth to prevent movement. This “permanent” style of retainer is ideal for those patients with large spaces between their teeth or severe rotations prior to orthodontic treatment. A fixed retainer must to checked every 6 months by a dentist or orthodontist.
Dental Examinations and Cleanings
The patient should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, to include thorough brushing and flossing techniques. His or her family dentist should see the patient at least every six months for cleaning and dental examinations.