Retention is the final and very important stage of orthodontic treatment. The goal of retention is to preserve your beautiful smile and functional bite for life. Teeth tend to shift and become more crowded throughout a lifetime, whether you have had orthodontic treatment or not. Retainers keep the teeth in their corrected positions until the bones and the gums adapt to the change.
There are many types of retainers, but the most commonly used in our office are the clear/invisible retainers. Here are some general rules for caring for your retainers:
- Wear your retainers as instructed by Dr. MacKenzie. Usually, the retainers are worn for 12 hours a day for the first year after orthodontic treatment. Afterward, you may wear your retainers less but we advise that you try them in and wear them at least several times a week.
- Clean your retainers every day, use mild soap and water, and brush them with a toothbrush. Avoid cleaning them with toothpaste, they may become cloudy.
- Keep the retainers stored in your case whenever you are not wearing them. Do not place them in a tissue or put them in your pocket – you may break or lose them.
- Keep retainers away from pets.
- Do not leave your retainers in the sun (in the dashboard of a car or in the window) – any excess heat will distort them. Do not put them in hot or boiling water because they will melt.
- If your retainers become cloudy, soak them in a 50:50 mixture of water and white vinegar for 15 minutes. Occasionally, to disinfect the retainers, you may use a solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 cup of water and soak for 15 minutes.
- If your dentist is placing fillings or crowns or is changing the shape of the teeth, take your retainers to your dental appointment or schedule an appointment in our office to make sure that the retainers are adjusted and fit properly after the dental work is done.
- Retainers are adapted to the final ideal positions of your teeth. If the retainers do not fit properly, this means that the teeth are shifting. If you have any questions about your retainers, if your retainers do not fit, or you would like your retainers checked, please call us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.