The retention phase is one of the most important aspects of orthodontics. It is meant to keep your or your child's teeth in place after braces have been removed. Teeth have a tendency to want to shift back into their original positions once the braces are removed. The purpose of retainers is to keep the teeth in their new positions until the bite is more stable and less likely to relapse.

Importance of Your Retainer

As your smile team, we have worked hard to get your teeth into the best possible position. However, when your braces are removed, your teeth will want to return to their original positions. Studies have shown that after orthodontic treatment, over half of orthodontic patients experience significant tooth movement.

Our main problem is that we are unable to predict which patients will have this tooth movement. For this reason, we recommend that you wear your retainer(s) 12 hours a day for at least the first year after your braces are removed. After the first year, most patients can wear retainers while sleeping. For some patients, this might be three or four times a week. For others, it might be once a month, just to make sure there has not been any movement of the teeth.

Your orthodontic treatment fee includes the initial set of retainers and one year of retention follow-up appointments. After one year, you will not be placed on a scheduled recall, but are encouraged to call us if your retainer needs adjusted. If you lose or break your retainer or if it's not fitting properly, we urge you to contact us for a consultation appointment to see if a replacement retainer is needed. You'll be protecting the time and investment you've made by doing so. Additional retainer services will be subject to our fees after the first year.

Types of Retainers

Traditional retainers (also called Hawley retainers) are removable and made of acrylic and wire. You have the ability to customize your retainer colors.

Clear overlay retainers are small and very easy to wear. They also have the ability to protect the surfaces of your teeth if you have a habit of grinding (bruxism) or clenching.

A fixed (or lower lingual retainer) is a small wire that is bonded to the lingual (tongue) side of your lower front six teeth.

Care of Your Retainer

In most cases, retainers will only need to be worn at night. Each individual patient's retainer instructions will depend on the relationship of your teeth and the tendency to relapse. Dr. Mennemeyer will make this determination at the appropriate time during your treatment. Feel free to discuss your options with her at any of your appointments. It is our goal to help you keep your teeth just a straight as the day your braces come off and we urge you to follow our instructions carefully.

Your retainers, just like your teeth, tend to attract plaque and food particles. When you take out your retainers, brush them carefully with your toothbrush and toothpaste. There are also retainer cleaners available at most stores. We suggest that you soak your retainers in a glass of room temperature water with a cleaning tablet (retainer or denture cleaner) once a day. Keeping your retainers clean will make them taste better and help keep your breath fresh.

Make sure to store your retainers in the case provided, when you're not wearing them. Never use hot water to clean your retainers and never put them or the case in direct sunlight. Don't wrap them in a tissue or napkin! More than likely they'll get thrown away. Dogs and cats have an attraction to retainers and will chew them up, so keep the retainers away from pets. Don't chew on your retainer yourself. It's possible to damage the fit by bending wires. If you lose or damage your retainers, they will need to be replaced. There will be an extra charge for replacement retainers.

If you notice that your retainers don't fit correctly, call our office for an appointment. Failing to wear your retainers as instructed could result in needing a new retainer or even braces again at an additional cost to you.

Keep your retainer check appointments! And don't forget to bring your retainers with you!

We'd like you to think of your retainers as insurance for your new smile! Take care of them and follow Dr. Mennemeyer's instructions so that your new smile stays as beautiful as the day she took your braces off!