Orthodontic Retainer Care

The key to maintaining your beautiful smile
from your orthodontic treatment 


From the desk of - Dr. Brian BerghDr. Brian Bergh

Braces By Bergh
1111 N. Brand Blvd, Ste 201
Glendale, CA 91202
(818) 242-1173

Dear Friend,

You have just spent years getting the smile of your dreams, and now you are facing the responsiblity of maintaing the results of your orthodontic treatment.

I call this a responsibility because it does require a commitment on your part to wearing your orthodontic retainers on a regular schedule.  The proper schedule will be recommend by your orthodontist and those instructions should be followed as recommended - this will ensure your teeth stay aligned well.

Teeth have a "mind" of their own

Even with the best orthodontic treatment, your teeth will want to move and return to their initial position.  I explain this as similar to if you have just moved to a new house - you are excited about your new place, but because of familiarity, you have feelings of returning (longing) to your old place where you were very comfortable.

Teeth are the same way - they want to return to their original place after orthodontic treatment.  This is in no way a failure of your orthodontic treatment, but a result of the natural  biology of your teeth, bones and gums.

Darn those elastic fibers

Before your teeth are moved through orthodontic treatment, they are in a place that they feel comfortable.  But this is not the best place for them.  Your orthodontist has decided that your teeth would be much healthier and more beautiful if they were moved to new position.

Your teeth are "fastened" to the gums and bone around them by millions of elastic fibers.  As your teeth are moved through orthodontic treatment, these fibers stretch like a rubber band.

Forces pull on your teeth
 just like tight rubber bands

And as you already know, a stretched rubber band pulls back to its original shape.  Thus, the elastic fibers attached to your teeth are pulling your teeth back to the position from where they originally started.

Over time, these elastic fibers will re-organize, but even after many years, teeth still want to move.  We still do not understand all the dynamics of these changes, but orthodontists do know that an orthodontic retainer is critical in keeping your teeth in their correct position.

Types of orthodontic retainers

There are two basic categories of orthodontic retainers: fixed and removable

Fixed (or bonded) retainers

As you might have guessed, fixed retainers are "permanently" bonded to your teeth, just like your braces.  These retainers are taken care of just like taking care of your orthodontic appliance (your braces).

Take care of your retainers
and they will take care of you!!

Your orthodontic retainers are durable, but not indestructable.  They will last for years and years, but only if you take care of them as recommended.

Removable retainers

There are two basic types of removable retainers - wire/acrylic and
clear retainers.  The care for each type of orthodontic retainer is similar:
Hawley wire/acrylic retainerClear retainer
               Wire/acrylic retainer                                            Clear retainer

First the common care recommendations for both types of orthodontic retainers:

1) Brush them with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste.  We recommend using a gel-type toothpast, one you can see through.  This type of toothpaste has less or no abrasive material that will scratch your orthodontic retainer.

2) If they get grungy with mineral deposits, soak them in white vinegar for 10-15 minutes and then brush as usual.  Be sure that you've rinsed off all the vinegar before putting them in your mouth, or you will be in for a big taste surprise.

3) A great cleaner for your retainers (as long as there aren't any solder joints on the wire retainer) is Retainer Brite.  This is a fizzing tablet cleaner that is available through Essix at www.RetainerBrite.com.  We have found this retainer cleaner to be an excellent addition to brushing your orthodontic retainer and recommend it regularly to our patients.

3)  Keep retainers away from heat.  The plastic material that retainers are made from will distort when exposed to extreme heat.  Keep your retainers away from the following:
    a)  extremely hot water - if you can't drink it comfortably, your retainer shouldn't be in it
    b)  the dashboard of a car - direct sunlight can get hot enough to distort the retainer
    c)  the microwave oven - yes, it has happened.  Keep the retainer out of the microwave
    d)  the dishwasher - the water in a dishwasher is just too hot for retainers
    e)  the washer and dryer - again, this has happened.  Take them out of your pocket before the laundry gets done.

4)  Keep them away from pets, especially dogs and cats.  If you have these pets, you know what they like to do when you pick them up - lick your face and mouth.  Since your orthodontic retainers are in your mouth, they smell just like you.  And that smell is just too enticing for your pet to resist.  Keep them in your retainer case when they aren't in your mouth.

5)  Don't put them where other things can be set on top of them.  This is most common for school-aged children who use a backpack.  Put your retainer in the case you've been given before putting them in your backpack.

6)  Don't put them in your pocket.  When you place your retainer in your pocket, they will most likely get squished when you sit down.  Even if you put them in your front pocket, the pressure placed on them when you sit down will bend or disort them.

Here is a short video on retainer care given by Connie, my most experienced RDA orthodontic assistant:

As you can see, caring for your orthodontic retainer is quite easy.  When you take care of it, it will take care of you.

And remember, since you have now graduated from orthodontic treatment, you don't want to go to back to remedial school (back into orthodontic treatment).  Wearing your orthodontic retainer will keep your teeth as straight as possible, and allow you to have a beautiful smile for a life-time.

Please call our office at (818) 242-1173 if you have any additional questions.

And if you know anyone in the Glendale, Burbank, La Crescenta, La Canada, Pasadena or North Los Angeles area who is looking for an orthodontist, please let them know about Braces By Bergh.  

They can get more information about our office by visiting our website at www.BracesByBergh.com.

      Dr. Bergh

Dr. Brian Bergh

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