Published on January 5, 2016, Updated on April 10, 2017
After you have obtained your beautiful smile with orthodontic treatment at Belmar Orthodontics, you need to commit to using your retainer to preserve your smile and avoid relapse. Your teeth will attempt to return to their original position without the necessary time needed to stabilize after treatment. The other type of tooth movement that you want to avoid by wearing your retainers is natural physiological drift, which is what happens to all of us as we get older. Natural physiological drift has to do with the width of our smiles getting narrower as we get older, causing our teeth to crowd. There are many factors that influence how long a patient needs to wear their retainers, but the best recommendation we can give our patients is to wear your retainers for as long as you want your teeth to stay straight.
Maintenance and Instructions for Hawley and ESSIX Retainers
- Wear them 16 hours per day. Wear your retainers at least 16 hours per day–from when you return home from school/work until you wake up in the morning. Wearing them only when you sleep is not enough time.
- Remove your retainers when you eat. Take your retainers out when eating…and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunchrooms or restaurants.)
- Clean retainers thoroughly. Clean your retainers once a day with a toothbrush and liquid hand soap to remove plaque and odors. We recommend using warm but not hot water. Efferdent or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used but take note–these do not take the place of brushing.
- Keep them in their case. When retainers are not being worn they should ALWAYS be in a retainer case. Pets love to chew on them and they can easily be thrown away if they are wrapped in a napkin during a meal. Retainer replacement is expensive…with proper care they will last for years!
- Practice speaking. Practice speaking, reading, or singing aloud to help yourself get used to the retainers in your mouth. It may seem difficult at first to speak with them, but you will adjust with practice.
- Treat your retainers with care. Retainers can break, so treat them with care. If retainers get broken or lost call us immediately. If you wait too long your teeth will shift and may require braces again to straighten. This is your responsibility.
- Don’t self adjust your retainers. If you feel that your retainers need adjusting don’t attempt to do this on your own. Give our office a call.
- Don’t wear during sports. Remove retainers when swimming, skiing, or playing contact sports.
- Avoid heat. It is important to keep retainers away from hot water and hot car dashboards.
- Bring retainers to appointments. During your appointment we like to assess how your retainer is fitting and how it is holding up to daily use.
- Use a Floss Threader. A floss threader is needed to floss underneath the wire. This will require a little more effort but will protect your teeth while using a very effective retaining device.
- Use a waterpik. A waterpik can help you to keep your teeth clean with the fixed retainer. If you ever feel one side become loose or something doesn’t feel right (such as too much pressure on the teeth) call our office and schedule an appointment right away to prevent teeth from shifting. Sometimes extra cleanings at your dentist may be recommended to keep the area clean.
- Avoid biting hard things. Fixed retainers are very strong, but they can break. Be careful with using the front teeth to bite into hard things like nuts and carrots.
- Practice good oral hygiene. If maintaining good oral hygiene becomes too cumbersome for you with our fixed retainer, we will recommend a removable one.
- Take care of your retainer. As a courtesy, Belmar Orthodontics will cover any breakage of the fixed retainer for the first year, after this will be you will be responsible for the costs for repair/or replacement retainers.