After your braces are removed, a very important step still follows. The teeth are still loose and need to be held in their proper place while the bone and gums get used to the new tooth positions. Even after that has happened it’s fair to say that everything in your body changes with age, including your teeth, whether you’ve had braces or not. While wisdom teeth are frequently blamed for tooth movement after braces, these same changes happen in people who have had their wisdom teeth removed. The key is consistent, long-term retainer wear.
For most people, the following schedule works best for retainer wear:
- First year: all day and all night, every day
- Second year: every night
- Third year: most nights, tapering down to one night a week or more.
Since everyone is different, Dr Stevens will customize this schedule as necessary to fit you.
Some tips to help you be most successful and minimize hassles and expense:
- NEVER wrap your retainers in a napkin – you WILL throw them away. “When they’re not in your face, put them in the case!”
- Keep your retainers, especially clear retainers, away from heat. The only exception is if the retainers are in your mouth, heat from things such as coffee will not affect them. If they are out of your mouth, heat will warp them and there will be a charge for repairing or replacing them.
- Do not keep your retainers anywhere pets can reach them. Dogs especially like to chew on retainers.
- If you do need to sterilize your removable retainers, use a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water at room temperature for 10 minutes – rinse them very well with water afterwards. Do not boil or microwave them!
- Use a toothbrush and toothpaste every day to clean your retainers. Denture cleaners can be used, but do not use warm or hot water! If you get white deposits on your retainers that don’t come off with brushing, you can soak them in white vinegar with a dash of table salt mixed in.
- If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Usually it means you need to wear the retainers more, but if they consistently feel too loose, too tight, are obviously bent or broken or are causing irritation to your gums, then make an appointment as soon as practical so we can take care of the problem for you. Please note: small cracks in clear retainers are normal and are only a problem when the retainer no longer maintains its original shape.
- Always bring your retainers with you to your appointment, even if it is broken.
The first set of retainers is included in your treatment fee. Repairs and replacement will involve additional fees. Also, if the retainer doesn’t fit because it wasn’t worn as directed, there will be a fee for replacement. If the teeth move to an unacceptable degree, and you want to restraighten them, there will be a fee for this additional treatment.