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You’ve spent months and months in braces or Invisalign to perfect your smile. The last thing you want now is for all that to go to waste. We don’t want that, either! Once our doctors at Wilson and Hendrickson Orthodontics remove your braces or Invisalign, you will begin the “retention” phase of your treatment. Retention is the post-braces maintenance stage of orthodontic treatment. Based on your individualized orthodontic plan, our orthodontists will custom-make a retainer for you to wear during this stage.

Post-Braces or Invisalign

Consistently wearing your retainer is essential in order to prevent your teeth from returning to their original positions in your mouth. After braces or Invisalign correct your smile, your teeth do not stop moving. This is because your teeth are not set in the jawbone; instead, they are held in place by a network of fibers called periodontal ligaments. 

After teeth move, it takes several months for the periodontal ligament to adjust to the new position. To maintain the progress, time, and money spent on braces or Invisalign, you must wear your retainer according to instructions from your Topeka orthodontist at Wilson and Hendrickson Orthodontics.

Types of Retainers

There are three main types of retainers. We offer the two most common types, Hawley and Essix retainers. 

  • Hawley Retainer — This is the traditional retainer most people picture when they hear “retainers.” A custom-molded acrylic mouthpiece holds wires that fit over your teeth to keep them in place. This retainer pops onto and off your teeth and can be removed for easy cleaning.
  • Essix Retainers — These are also called Vivera or clear retainers. Similar to clear aligners, they’re meant to keep your teeth in place. They’re removable for easy cleaning.
  • Permanent Retainers — A wire is bonded permanently to the back of your teeth. It usually can’t be seen. Tartar can build up easily around the retainer because it’s not removable. Be extra vigilant to keep the area around the retainer clean and free of plaque

Adapting to Retainers

There will be an adjustment period after you get your retainers, just like when you first got your braces or Invisalign. You may experience some minor and temporary symptoms as your mouth adjusts. Among these symptoms, the most commonly reported are difficulty talking normally (some sort of lisp) and producing more saliva than usual. After a short period of consistent use, you will hardly notice you are wearing a retainer at all.

Frequency of Retainer Use

When you get your new retainers, we will instruct you to wear your retainer all day, 24/7, except to eat or brush and floss your teeth. You will do this for several months, possibly up to a year. After that, we’ll inform you when you can switch to wearing your retainers overnight only. As time goes on, you may only need to wear them a few nights a week. 

We will examine you during regular checkups a few times a year to determine how much you need to wear your retainer. The idea is to reduce the time you need in a retainer without losing that beautiful new smile!

Maintaining Your Retainer

Your retainers are designed to last you a lifetime. Chances are you’ll need to replace them eventually, but with proper care, you can hang onto them for years. 

You can keep your retainer fresh and germ-free through proper cleaning, and proper storage can keep them safe. The following suggestions will help you maintain and protect your retainer throughout your retention process.

  • Clean your removable retainer with a soft toothbrush and dishwashing liquid/mild liquid soap. You can use antibacterial soap with retainers; just make sure it’s clear and not colored.
  • Use special retainer cleaner tablets. Be careful with denture cleansers, particularly with clear retainers. Some tablets contain abrasives that can make your retainers look cloudy. 
  • Clean fixed retainers by brushing and flossing; a floss threader or interproximal brush can also be a helpful cleaning tool when needed.
  • Use safe cleaning alternatives. If cleaning tablets aren’t available, you can use white distilled vinegar or baking soda diluted in lukewarm water to clean your retainers. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly before putting them in your mouth. 
  • Use a soft-bristled brush or cotton swab. If you have food particles or plaque trapped in the crevices of your retainers, use a cotton swab or a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove them. Don’t use toothpaste! Abrasive material in the toothpaste can cause microabrasions on your retainers that will turn them cloudy over time. 
  • Do not expose your retainer to excess heat (dishwashers, very hot water, or leaving it on a heater). High temperatures can cause the retainers to warp and make them unusable.
  • Always carry and use a retainer case. Do not wrap your retainer in napkins or tissues; many retainers are accidentally discarded when improperly stored.

Visit Us In Topeka, KS

At Wilson and Hendrickson Orthodontics, we understand the hard work you invested in your smile. Let us help you maintain it! The key is to follow your instructions on wearing, cleaning, and protecting your retainers. Together, we can make your smile last! 

If you have more questions about retainers or any part of orthodontic treatment, you can contact us at our Topeka, KS, office or schedule an appointment to visit with us. If you’re ready to get started with orthodontic treatment, visit us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will perform a thorough exam and let you know what type of treatment is right for you. We look forward to seeing you!

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