Getting your braces off is an exciting and celebratory event, but it’s just the first step in ensuring your beautiful, new smile is a permanent asset. After your braces are removed, your retainers will be placed and you’ll begin the retention stage of your treatment. Our patients typically have four retainer check visits over the first year, and once this ‘active retention’ phase is completed, most patients are instructed to wear their retainers one night per week indefinitely.
Quality research and clinical experience have clearly demonstrated that teeth are at risk for movement or shifting throughout life, so regular retainer wear is the only way to ensure a perfect smile over time. Maintaining your final orthodontic result depends on your retainer wear, so please follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far!
In most cases, we use clear, Invisalign-type retainers that slip over the teeth and are invisible when you wear them. We’ll provide you with a special case for your retainers; any time your retainers are not in your mouth, they should be in your case! Wrapping retainers in a napkin and placing them on a restaurant tray is a surefire way to lose them. To clean your retainers, brush them with dish soap and an old toothbrush. Occasionally brushing with toothpaste is okay, but it will scratch the retainers if used too frequently.
In some cases, we use the more traditional plastic and wire ‘Hawleytype’ retainers. Cleaning and care instructions are similar to Invisalign-type retainers, but you have to be careful not to inadvertently bend the wires.
Permanent retainers are tiny wires glued to the backs of the front teeth (usually the lowers) to keep them straight after the braces are removed. Dr. Lazzara is a proponent of permanent retainers, and uses them in most cases where significant crowding of the lower front teeth existed before treatment. Permanent retainers are more difficult to keep clean, so their use must be limited to cases where relapse is a major concern, AND where patients have demonstrated good oral hygiene habits during treatment.
Permanent retainers generally stay in place for at least 2 years after the braces are removed. If hygiene is adequate, and the patient’s family dentist has not noted problems with tartar accumulation around the retainer, Dr. Lazzara generally recommends to keep them in place. In the event that permanent retainers are removed, removable retainers must be fabricated and worn regularly to keep the teeth straight.