Retainers in Santa Monica

You have put in the hard work to have straight teeth. Let us keep it that way!

Please remember that wearing your retainers as instructed is just as important as wearing the braces themselves.

Now that your teeth have been moved into their desired positions, a period of time is needed to stabilize the teeth so that the surrounding bone and tissues can conform to your new dental alignment.

How long are retainers worn?

You should wear your retainers full time, all day and all night, for six months. After that, you can wear them at nights only. The motto to keep in mind is “Night Time for A Life Time.” 

Please note that this schedule may vary slightly from patient to patient.

We will continue to see you to ensure your retainers are fitting properly. Please remember to keep up with your retainer check-ups every few months.

Will my teeth move back following my orthodontic treatment?

If retainers are not worn, there will be changes in tooth position.

Our teeth are always moving throughout our lives, with or without orthodontic treatment. This can be due to growth of your jaws, oral habits, new restorations, trauma, wisdom teeth, and more.

The goal of retainers is to limit these dental changes to your body’s natural processes while maintaining a good functional and esthetic result.

How do I take care of my retainers?

Place retainers on your teeth gently and never bite down into them, as this can break them. Do not push on your lower retainer with your tongue, as this may also cause breakage. 

Remove them to eat/drink and when playing sports, including swimming. Remember to place them back in your retainer case to prevent damage and accidental loss.

Brushing your retainers using cool or warm water (never hot) and mild liquid dish soap daily will help keep them clean. Soak them in retainer cleaning tablets periodically to reduce odor causing bacteria. 

Be careful not to place your retainer in hot water or in a parked car in the sun as the heat may distort it.

What if a retainer is lost, broken, or does not fit anymore?

Remember that although you are recommended to wear a retainer for a lifetime, they will not last that long. Retainers need to be replaced every few years depending on the type and how well you take care of them.

Please call us as soon as possible for an appointment to replace, repair, or adjust your retainer. Although there may be a charge, it is an inexpensive way to protect the investment you have made in your orthodontic care.

What different retainer options are available?

There are generally two types of retainer options available – removable or fixed (permanent) retainers.

Removable

Hawley retainers are made of acrylic and metal, and are the traditional kind of retainers we are all familiar with.

Advantages:

  • The metal wires can be adjusted as needed.
  • The acrylic base can be more easily adjusted to fit around new fillings or restorations as needed.
  • These retainers are more durable and long-lasting.

Disadvantages:

  • Hawley retainers are not as esthetic because of the metal wire.  

Essix or Vivera retainers are made of a clear, BPA-free plastic material that looks similar to Invisalign aligners. While it differs between each patient, these retainers typically last anywhere from 1 to 3 years.

Please make sure to use both hands to remove your plastic retainers. If you twist or pull from one side with too much pressure, you can break or distort them. Make sure to avoid biting down into the retainer to place it on your teeth. Use your fingers with gentle pressure to fully seat them. 

Advantages:

  • Clear retainers are highly esthetic.

Disadvantages:

  • These retainers are not as long lasting as Hawley retainers.
  • You may need to replace your retainer if and when new restorations are done.

Fixed

A fixed, or permanent, retainer is a wire that is cemented on the backside of your teeth. We will also recommend a removable retainer to wear over your fixed retainer as an added precaution to prevent any unwanted tooth movement.

A fixed retainer may be recommended by your orthodontist in certain situations, including:

  • Holding spaces, or gaps, between your teeth closed
  • Initial moderate crowding where extractions were not performed
  • Potential non-compliance with removable retainers

There are certain foods you want to avoid where your fixed retainer is located to prevent wire breakage. Please keep in mind that fixed retainers will last anywhere from 2 to 10 years depending on how well you take care of them.

If you notice the wire or cement pad wearing down, please give us a call immediately to replace. 

Advantages:

  • Fixed retainers are highly esthetic since wires are cemented behind your teeth and cannot be seen.
  • You do not need to be as compliant with the removable retainer that is to be worn over the fixed retainer.

Disadvantages:

  • A fixed retainer is not as hygienic. You will need to use a floss threader on contacts where wire is cemented.
  • There will be food limitations in the area where the fixed retainer is placed.