Once the active stage of orthodontic treatment is completed, you will need to wear retainers and may have some questions you would like answered.
What is a retainer and how important is it that I wear it? Retainers are designed to maintain the orthodontic alignment of your teeth. Now that your teeth are straight, if you DO NOT wear your retainer, your teeth are likely to drift towards their original position. If this happens it may be difficult, if not impossible, to correct.
You will be issued with retainers at the end of the active phase of your treatment, immediately after your braces are removed. You may be issued with a clear plastic or metal type removable retainer(s) or a fixed retainer, or in some cases you may be given both.
How long will I have to wear the removable retainers? This will vary according to how your teeth originally looked before the orthodontic treatment was started. However, as a general rule you will be asked to wear a removable retainer for at least 12 months and more. This may mean wearing it all the time at first, before going on to just night-time wear. You will be advised if long term wear is required.
How might the retainers affect me? Your speech will be different. Practice speaking with the retainer in place e.g. read out loud at home on your own, and in this way your speech will return to normal within a couple of days. You may also find you produce more saliva and that you find yourself swallowing a lot to begin with. This is quite normal and will quickly pass.
Can I eat normally? Whether you have been instructed to eat with your retainer in or out, you should take care to avoid: sugary things such as cakes, biscuits and sweets between meals and fizzy drinks including diet drinks and water, or excessive amounts of fruit juice.
What about tooth brushing? It is important you brush well three times per day and use fluoride toothpaste. If possible carry a brush with you to use after lunch. Take the retainer out to clean your teeth. You should also gently brush the retainer, taking care not to damage any wires. A daily fluoride mouth rinse should be used last thing at night, after tooth brushing. Failure to keep your teeth and retainer clean will lead to permanent scarring of your teeth.
Can I remove the retainer? If you have been asked to wear the retainer full time, it should only be removed for cleaning. When it is not in the mouth it should be kept in a retainer pot. These are available from our reception. Never wrap the retainer in a tissue as this is how they get lost or broken. A fee is payable under the National Health Service if a retainer needs to be replaced. DO NOT click the retainer in and out with your tongue as this can damage or break it. If the retainer cannot be worn because it is being repaired, your teeth may not remain straight.
How often will I need an appointment? You will not need to be seen so often now that you are wearing retainers and appointments are normally every 3 to 4 months. Your orthodontist will advise you about this.
What is a fixed retainer? A fixed retainer is a thin wire permanently attached to the inside of the front teeth. Your Orthodontist will advise you on how to keep the fixed retainer clean, but care should be taken with eating crunchy food. If you experience any problems with a fixed retainer please make an appointment to see your Orthodontist.
Do I still need to see my regular dentist? Yes, it is very important to keep regular appointments with your dentist and hygienist. Now that you are wearing retainers, it will be easier to check your teeth for decay. This is particularly so if your previous brace was fixed to the teeth.
What should I do if I play contact sports? Now that your teeth are straight it is important to obtain a custom made mouth guard for playing any form of contact sports. We recommend you seek advice from your general dentist regarding appointments to have a mouth guard made. Removable retainers should be removed for all contact sports.
What do I do if my retainer breaks? Please call the practice where you had your treatment as soon as reasonably possible. Do not wait for your next routine appointment as your teeth may move while not wearing your retainers. If the retainer is lost or broken beyond repair there will be a fee payable for patients.