We know – you are looking forward to getting your braces off and being free of appliances and then – you get a retainer. So, why do you have to wear a retainer and for how long? At Dunn Orthodontics in Albuquerque NM, we will recommend you wear the retainer full-time for the first 3 months and then ‘nighttime for a lifetime’ thereafter, and it’s for a very good reason.

Tooth Movement Doesn’t Stop

We want to keep your teeth in their new position by wearing your retainer. Your teeth will always have the tendency to gradually drift back to their original positions without it. This phase of treatment is very important as your body is strengthening the bone around your teeth. If your retainers are not worn as instructed… your teeth WILL MOVE.

Types of Retainers

Retainers are custom made for your mouth and are designed to prevent your teeth from shifting. The most common type of retainer is the ESSIX retainer. This is a ‘clear’ or ‘invisible’ retainer that is made of a durable plastic material and fits tightly around your teeth. Another option is the HAWLEY retainer. This retainer has the metal wire and loops that fit around specific teeth for anchoring. It also has the pink acrylic material that rests on the roof of your mouth. A final option is the FIXED retainer, these retainers consist of a metal wire that is cemented to the backs of your teeth.

How Long Will I have to Wear Retainers?

The first 3 months you will need to wear your retainers 24 hours a day.  The only exception for the removal of retainers is: to eat, drink and to brush your teeth. At the end of 3 months, Dr. Dunn will check your progress and make the decision to move you into evening and night time wear if you are ready.  Evening and night time wear means 10-12 hours a day, usually after dinner until the next morning.  ‘Nighttime for a Lifetime!’

How to Care for a Retainer

We recommend that you clean your retainers EVERY DAY to keep them sparkling and germ free.  The key to a clean retainer is never allowing your saliva to dry on the retainer.  An easy way to prevent this from happening is simply rinsing your retainers under running water upon removal.

Every 3 to 4 months we recommend a more thorough cleaning.  Over the counter products such as “Retainer Brite” or “Fresh Guard” may be used.  Our at-home method uses vinegar.  Mix equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and warm water in a cup and soak for 15 minutes.  Then brush your retainer gently with a soft bristle toothbrush and rinse thoroughly with water.

Dunn Orthodontics is your Albuquerque orthodontist with state of the art technology and a variety of effective treatment options. Give us a call today to get started on your way to a new and beautiful smile!