Retainer Wear & Why We Care

At Graber & Gyllenhaal Orthodontics, we understand why the end of treatment is often the most exciting day for our patients! Whether we got to this amazing resolution with fixed braces or removable aligners– They worked hard with us to achieve your best smile and bite. While this day is momentous, it does not mean that orthodontic considerations are over.

Following “active treatment”, teeth will want to naturally shift back to their original positions; retainers act as guards to hold the teeth in the gums and jaw bone while they solidify in their new position.

Wearing and caring for your retainers as the doctors prescribe is vital to maintaining your new smile. Your smile is unique to you, which means that your retainer care is specific to you, too. You may have a different retainer than your friends, such as a clear aligner/retainer, colored acrylic retainer with wire clasps, and/or a permanent retainer, but that’s because every smile is different. In our office we provide individualized retainers–just as we customized active treatment. Regular retainer checks are an important part of your post-treatment monitoring, where the doctors ensure that your retainers continue to fit and function as intended.

Retainers have two main homes – in your mouth or in your retainer case. Leaving your retainer loose in a purse or backpack where it can be crushed or cracked is a dangerous (and potentially costly) habit!  Don’t wrap retainers in napkins, as napkins can easily be thrown in the trash and discarded. When eating a meal at home, do not leave your retainers on the kitchen counter–place the retainer in it’s protective case. Dogs and other pets are easily tempted by the smell of a retainer, and can chew and destroy a retainer in minutes.

We also recommend that patients avoid exposing their removable retainers to heat that can warp or alter their customized shape. Retainers should be rinsed in cool or warm water and scrubbed as instructed. Never use hot water or boil the retainer to clean it.

If your retainer is lost or broken, or you notice that it is not fitting properly, call the office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. We always recommend replacing broken retainers as soon as possible to minimize shifting or movement of your teeth. You’ve worked hard to achieve your tooth straightening goals – protect your smile and your investment!

Your body will change as you age, and so will your teeth. Retainers work to hold your smile at the point they were when treatment ended. In order to minimize future shifting, we recommend to our patients that retainers are a lifetime commitment. After a period in our office, your dentist will be monitoring your tooth positions and retainers at your regular dental check-ups. Bottom line, you should wear your retainers for as long as you want your teeth to remain straight 🙂