Retainers – Everything You Need to Know

You have finally completed your orthodontic treatment and it is time to show off your beautiful smile! Regardless of the type of orthodontic treatment you have had, an important way we can help you maintain your beautiful smile is to provide you with retainers.

Below are our answers to the questions we regularly get from our patients about retainers:

  1. Why do I need a retainer?

You need a retainer to keep your teeth as straight as they were on the day you completed your orthodontic treatment. When teeth have been moved, the bone around the tooth is still soft, so it is important to wear your retainer until this bone has stabilised. However, even when this bone has stabilised, as you age your teeth will also naturally shift. This movement can be prevented by wearing your retainer as it is designed to hold your teeth in a particular position.

  1. What kind of retainer options are there?

There are two types of retainers – bonded and removable. A bonded retainer is a fixed wire that is glued onto the inside of the teeth. This retainer helps to prevent any movement on the lower teeth and sometimes also on the top front teeth. This wire is quite durable, but due to the mouth’s hostile environment, it can potentially detach from the teeth. It is important to check this retainer every now and again to see if anything is loose. The other type of retainer is a removable retainer. For all our patients, an upper removable retainer is issued as a wire is not enough to keep the teeth straight.

  1. How long do I have to wear my retainer for?

We have developed a protocol for keeping your teeth in position and protecting your smile. During the first 3 months after orthodontic treatment has been completed, a removable retainer must be worn full time. It should only be removed for eating, brushing, drinking and playing contact sports. You can then reduce the wear to 18 hours a day for 6 months, followed by night-time for 12 months. After a total of approximately 2 years, the retainer can be worn every alternate night or 2-3 nights per week for as long as possible. This will ensure your teeth stay in the perfect position.

  1. How do I keep my retainer clean?

To keep your retainer clean, remember to brush it morning and night after wear with cold water and a toothbrush. If you would like to give your retainer an extra clean, you can soak it in a small amount of vinegar with a cup of water (1 part vinegar to 3 parts cold water) for about 15 minutes once a week. This will help to remove any residual build up of saliva and bacteria. Alternatively, you can also use a retainer cleaner as per the instructions once a week.