Wearing (and taking care of) your retainers is the MOST important part of orthodontic treatment and is a lifetime commitment!

Orthodontic retainers are custom-made appliances to hold teeth in their corrected positions.

Retainers will help to reduce the potential for relapse movement and, since teeth always have the ability to move, we recommend full cooperation with retainer wear well into your mid-twenties or even longer.

Dr. Chapman will make specific retainer recommendations for you, based on your teeth and your individual needs. He will also let you know if there are other retainer options available and we will discuss options with you before the braces are removed. It is important to understand that not all types of retainers are good for all people.

No retainer is meant to last forever and retainers will need to be replaced! The life of your retainer will be dependent upon how you use the retainer and how well you take care of it. It is very important that you follow the wear and care instructions that we provide you.

Removable “clear” retainer — This type of retainer is commonly worn on the upper teeth. It requires special care in placement and removal so that you do not crack or weaken the clear plastic material. A clear retainer fits close to the teeth and covers the biting surface. If you are a grinder or clencher, this may not be a good option as you would bite through the material.

Removable “Hawley” retainer — This type of retainer is sometimes worn on the upper, and lower teeth. There is an acrylic/plastic base that is on the tongue side and there is a wire which is seen across the front of the teeth. It requires special care in placing it in your mouth and taking it out so as not to damage or bend the wire.

Bonded lingual retainer —This type of retainer is commonly worn behind the lower teeth. It requires careful cleaning and flossing to be sure there is no plaque build up. Most people cannot wear this type of retainer on the upper teeth as the lower teeth would bite into the wire with a normal bite.

It is very important to wear your retainer(s) as we recommend. If your retainer becomes cracked, loose, or weakened, your teeth may move, sometimes they can move quickly. As such, it is important to care for them as we have instructed you and to closely inspect them for any problems.

If you notice any problems with your retainer, you should see a dental professional right away to insure that your teeth do not move. It may be possible to adjust your retainer (removable Hawley) or it may become necessary to take new impressions and make a new retainer for you.

Depending upon how long it has been since your retainer was delivered to you, there may be an appointment fee to come into the office. If a new retainer is required, there will be a fee.

Important Retainer Information

  • Wear your retainers full time, until the doctor instructs otherwise.
  • Take your retainers out when eating… and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost when thrown away in school lunch rooms or restaurants.)
  • Clean retainers thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and eliminates odors. Efferdent® or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used, but do not take the place of brushing.
  • When retainers are not in your mouth they should ALWAYS be in a retainer case. Pets love to chew on them!
  • Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to them faster.
  • Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. If retainers are lost or broken call us immediately.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about your retainers, or your retainers need adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust them yourself.
  • Always bring your retainers to your appointments.
  • Retainers do not last forever and will need to be replaced. With proper care, a retainer can last longer!
  • Remove retainers when swimming.
  • Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.