Once you’ve completed your orthodontic treatment, you’re going to be excited about your new smile.  But how do you keep it looking straight and beautiful?

You guessed it: retainers!  This page describes the most common types of retainers used at Small and Piers Orthodontics.  Each of these retainers is geared towards preventing the relapse of specific, initial orthodontic problems and keeping your smile gorgeous for the long run. 

Here’s the breakdown:

Fixed (Or Bonded) Retainers

For certain types of crooked teeth, such as severely rotated or spaced teeth, the best way to hold your teeth in their final, aligned positions is a fixed retainer.  A fixed retainer is a thin orthodontic wire bonded directly to the backs of your teeth.  These retainers are designed so they won’t be visible during smiling and day-to-day interactions.  While they require some extra awareness and maintenance (such as flossing beneath the retainer wire), they can be a surefire way to keep things straight.  These retainers are only rarely used alone and are almost always covered with an “overlay” or removable retainer.

Removable Retainers

We use two types of removable retainers at Small and Piers Orthodontics, depending on your initial orthodontic problem:

Hawley Retainers

Hawley retainers are probably what you think of when you think, retainers.  Hawleys are made from wire and acrylic that can be customized in different colors (including that perennial classic, tie-dye!).  Hawleys have great longevity, and some of our former patients are still wearing their original Hawleys when they bring in THEIR children to see us!

Plastic (or Essix) Retainers

Plastic or Essix retainers are the new retainers on the block, and they’re also the most common retainers used at Small and Piers Orthodontics.  These retainers are made from clear plastic in the same style as Invisalign® aligners—and thanks to our in-house lab, we’re proud to offer them to our patients same-day.  These retainers are especially great for keeping your teeth straight while you’re showing off your gorgeous new smile on the day your braces are removed.

Removable retainer care and instructions

To make sure your teeth stay as straight and beautiful as they are on the day you finish your treatment, please follow these instructions:

  • Wear your retainers full-time until Drs. Small or Piers tell you otherwise.  (The first six months following the completion of orthodontic treatment is the most likely time for your teeth to shift.)
  • Take your retainers out when eating, drinking, playing sports or swimming, and always put them in their retainer case. (Most retainers are lost in school lunchrooms or restaurants when they are wrapped in a napkin and thrown away.)
  • Clean your retainers once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste to remove plaque and eliminate odors. Use warm but not hot water.
  • When your retainers are not in your mouth, ALWAYS put them in their retainer case. Pets love to chew on them!
  • Initially, you may find it difficult to speak with your retainers in. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to them faster.
  • Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. If your retainers are lost or broken, please call us as soon as you can.
  • If you have any concerns about your retainers, or if your retainers need adjusting, please call us (and don’t try adjusting them yourself!).
  • Always bring your retainers to your appointments.
  • Try to keep your retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.
  • Remember, if you take proper care of your retainers, they can last you for years!

Few things in life are certain, but we can say with certainty that if you don’t wear your retainers, your teeth will shift!  We’ll ask you to wear your retainers full-time for at least 6-8 weeks after your orthodontic treatment.  After your teeth have stabilized, we will ask you to wear your retainers half-time, and then finally just when you are sleeping. After the first year of retainer wear, it will be okay to occasionally skip a night, but make sure never to miss two nights in a row.

Have any more questions about retainers?  Give us a call and ask; we’re always happy to chat about the best ways to keep your smile beautiful for years to come!

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