The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you keep the following 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 many 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 treatment should wear retainers indefinitely. For most patients, we recommend wearing retainers day and night for one month following the removal of braces, then night-only wear is prescribed.
Dr. Becker & Dr. Scott will see you every six months to check your retainers, for approximately two years. During this time, they will also monitor the development of your wisdom teeth.
After two years of monitoring your retainers, the doctor will dismiss you from the practice. This means you will not schedule a future appointment, but you will continue to wear your retainers as prescribed by the doctor. If you ever need a future retainer adjustment, simply call the office, and we will be happy to see you.
How to Care for Retainers
- Retainers are made of a thermoplastic material (acrylic) 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.
- Keep retainers away from any family pets, as they like to chew on them.
- Clean your retainers each time you remove them from your mouth. Because the material used for fabrication is slightly porous, plaque tends to cling to the surfaces. Gentle scrubbing with a toothbrush and a mild liquid soap will remove the plaque. Do NOT use a denture cleanser to clean your retainers, as it could damage the retainers.
Because retainers are worn for many years, they may 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.
Fixed Retainers (Bonded or Permanent Retainers)
This type of retainer is designed to remain in place 8-10 years. Many patients become so accustomed to this type of retainer, that they keep it indefinitely. If your family dentist says you are not keeping it clean and it is beginning to cause gum or bone problems, the fixed retainer may need to be removed, and replaced with a removable retainer. The removable retainer should then be worn as Dr. Becker & Dr. Scott prescribe.
The fixed retainer will protect the teeth as the patient gets older and the facial muscles get tighter. Flossing underneath the fixed retainer will help prevent plaque build-up and tartar formation. Please have this fixed retainer monitored by your family dentist at your six-month check ups. If the fixed retainer is ever broken or feels loose, please contact our office immediately, so that we can repair or replace it.
Habits or Conditions that Require Stronger Retention
- Mouth breathing
- Clenching and/or grinding of teeth (muscle hyperactivity)
- Tongue thrusting, low tongue posture or abnormal tongue posture
- Playing a reeded musical instrument
- Lip sucking/biting
- Pen or pencil biting
- Spacing between the teeth prior to treatment
- Severely rotated teeth
Our goal is to help your smile stay beautiful and healthy for a lifetime. Your cooperation is essential in order to achieve this goal.
Dental Examinations and Cleanings
The patient should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, which includes thorough brushing and flossing techniques. The family dentist should see the patient at least every six months for a professional cleaning and dental examination.