Finishing orthodontic treatment is an exciting event – you finally get to see your beautiful new smile and share it with the world. Here at Daghlian Pediatric Dentistry & Sokolowski Orthodontics, we celebrate the completion of your treatment with you, but properly aligning your smile isn’t the end of your smile journey. You will need orthodontic retention to maintain your new smile and ensure it remains straight and beautiful for years to come.
What Is A Retainer?
Retention is the final part of orthodontic treatment, and is designed to keep your teeth properly aligned after your braces come off or your clear aligner series is complete. This phase of treatment involves a custom-made appliance known as a retainer. When worn properly as directed by Dr. Paul Sokolowski, your retainer will prevent your teeth from shifting back into their previous positions.
How long or often you wear your retainer depends on your individual needs and the type of retainer you receive. When you are having your retainer fitted, our orthodontist and team will discuss your retention plan with you, and we will follow-up with you to make sure your retainer is working properly for you.
Types of Retainers
There are several types of retainers available, and we will discuss your options with you to determine which type of retainer is right for your smile. Here are the three main types of retainers our orthodontist may recommend:
- Hawley Retainers – these consist of wires and clasps embedded into a plastic body. This retainer covers the roof of the mouth for the upper arch or lies along the tongue-side of the teeth for the lower arch. The clasps in the retainer fit around specific teeth or hold the retainer in place, and a wire across the front of the teeth helps maintain proper tooth alignment. Hawley retainers are removable.
- Clear Retainers – these are made of clear plastic and fit snugly over the teeth, similar to how clear aligners fit during orthodontic treatment. These retainers are a more discreet option for retention, but may not be as durable. A clear retainer is also removable.
- Fixed Retainers – these retainers are permanently bonded to the tongue-side of the front teeth, where they prevent your teeth from shifting out of place. A fixed retainer can only be removed by our orthodontist or another dental professional.
Caring For Your Retainer
You will need to take good care of your retainer to maintain it and ensure it continues to function properly.
If you are wearing a removable retainer:
- Take it out when you eat, brush or floss
- Make sure to store it properly, and keep an eye on it so that you don’t forget, lose or throw it away by accident if you are eating out at a restaurant or in a cafeteria
- Brush your retainer using a soft-bristled toothbrush and lukewarm water to keep it free from bacteria and plaque buildup. You may also soak it in denture cleaner every week or so
- Don’t brush with toothpaste or mouthwash
- Don’t place your retainer in the dishwasher or use extremely hot or cold water to clean it
- Don’t soak your retainer in bleach to clean it
- Avoid biting your retainer to move it into place
- If your retainer is lost or broken, call our office and schedule an appointment to have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible
- Keep your retainer out of reach of pets or young children
- Remove it while playing sports and wear a sports mouth guard. We also recommend removing your retainer while swimming
If you are wearing a permanent retainer:
- Brush and floss carefully to ensure any debris trapped between your retainer and your teeth is removed.
- Consider using a floss threader to make sure you can floss properly under and between the retainer and your teeth.
- Avoid sticky or extremely hard or chewy foods, as this could damage your retainer. In the case of hard foods such as ice or hard candy, you can have them in your mouth but avoid chewing on them.
- If your retainer breaks, comes loose or causes discomfort, please call our office and schedule an appointment with our orthodontist.
Schedule An Appointment Today
If you have any questions about orthodontic retention in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, California, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sokolowski, contact our office today and speak with a member of our team.