Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Retainers
1- Retainer 101 – Why do patients need retainers, when are they used, why are they important?
- Why are retainers used in orthodontic treatment?
Retainers are used to retain the new teeth position after the smile has been corrected through braces or iDentity clear aligner treatment.
- Why are retainers sometimes used before braces treatment?
Retainers are not used prior to braces. Phase 1 orthodontic appliances may resemble retainers, however, they are not – retainers are used only after treatment to ensure the teeth retain their new locations.
- Why are retainers so important during orthodontic treatment?
Retainers are a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment. If you have worn braces or had iDentity clear aligner treatment, you’ve worked hard to ensure a beautiful smile at the end of that treatment. But, if you won’t wear your retainer exactly as your orthodontist recommends, you may see that smile start to slip away.
- Why are retainers used in orthodontic treatment?
The ligaments and tissues in the mouth need time to adjust to the teeth’s new locations. These ligaments are kind of elastic, so they’ll be tempted to snap back into their previous locations, taking the teeth slowly with them. The retainer works to retain the new locations of your teeth.
Once your braces are first removed, your orthodontist will explain when and how you should wear your retainer. For many, it will be worn around the clock for the first several months, and then you may be able to wear it only at night. But, never amend your retainer wear without speaking to your orthodontist first.
- Are retainers really required after braces?
The day an orthodontic patient’s braces are removed is an exciting day for the patient. But, it doesn’t mean the work is over. As discussed in the question above, retainers are a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment. If you want to ensure your beautiful new smile lasts, yes, retainers are required after your braces are removed.
- Why do I have to wear my retainer at night?
Retainers are a necessary part of your orthodontic treatment. After your braces are removed, your orthodontist will explain to you how your retainer should be worn, and over time, this plan may be amended. But, if you want to keep your new smile, it is important to wear your retainer at night for life.
As we age, our teeth naturally shift, whether we’ve had orthodontic treatment or not. But if you’ve spent the time and money on orthodontic treatment to get a beautiful smile that functions properly, it may be even more important to you to ensure that smile remains. To ensure that, you’ll need to wear your retainer every night.
- Who needs permanent retainers?
Permanent retainers are used for certain orthodontic patients. While they are called permanent, it is important to note that they will not, in fact, last forever. I prefer to refer to these as bonded retainers. A bonded retainer is glued to the teeth using a dental bonding agent. We see these used in patients who have a very high likelihood of relapse. Because the retainer is bonded directly to the teeth, the patient doesn’t have to worry about remembering to wear it.
- How do retainers work and what do retainers do for your teeth?
A retainer’s primary job is to keep the teeth in place after orthodontic treatment. Your retainer is created to fit the exact shape and alignment of your teeth once the braces are removed, to ensure stability of your new bite.
It isn’t just your teeth that need to adjust to their new locations, but the tissues of the mouth, too. Depending on the severity of your orthodontic issue, it can take up to a year for the tissues of your mouth to stabilize. That’s why retainer wear is crucial – if the ligaments don’t have time to adjust, they can try to snap back into place, taking your teeth along with them.
- Can retainers straighten teeth or close gaps?
A retainer’s job is to retain the position of the teeth after orthodontic care. That means it’s job is to keep the teeth straight. Retainers are not used to straighten teeth without braces, but rather to maintain the work the braces have done.
- Are retainers ever bad for your teeth?
When worn and cared for properly, a retainer is a tool to ensure your smile stays straight and beautiful for life. However, if you don’t not properly care for your retainer, it cannot do its job properly. That means ensuring it is kept safe and clean and it is worn exactly as your orthodontist recommended. If you do not properly clean your retainer, tartar and plaque can build up, which can lead to issues with your oral health.
- Can a retainer fix an overbite?
A retainer alone cannot properly correct an overbite. Braces are the only way to achieve a properly functioning smile. A retainer can, however, ensure your teeth do not drift back to their previous locations once your braces come off.
- Can a retainer be used to align my teeth or to realign my teeth?
A retainer on its own will not be used to align your teeth. A retainer’s job is to maintain the smile. If you have not worn your retainer for a while and have noticed your teeth may have shifted slightly, it may be able to get them back into place, if the shift is only minimal.
However, if you have not worn your retainer for a while, and want to begin wearing it again, it is best to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to ensure you won’t be causing any damage to your smile. For some patients, it may be necessary to undergo minor braces or iDentity clear aligner treatment again to ensure the best smile.
- Can retainers be used to prevent grinding teeth?
Some people have a condition known as bruxism, which means they grind their teeth. This can cause significant damage, including breaking and chipping your teeth. Wearing a clear retainer such as an Essix retainer can prevent you from damaging your teeth when you grind them.
- Can a retainer be used instead of braces to align teeth?
Retainers should never be used instead of braces to correct an orthodontic issue. If you close a gap in one place in the mouth, chances are you are creating another one somewhere else. We cannot move only a couple of teeth at a time and still achieve a properly working bite. We need to ensure every tooth in the mouth is in the ideal location, and the proper tools for this are braces or clear aligner therapy. The same can be said about retainers to realign teeth. If you have noticed your teeth have shifted because you didn’t wear your retainer, you will probably need to undergo braces treatment of some sort again, most likely for a very short period of time, to ensure your bite is ideal.
- What type of retainer is better?
Every orthodontic case is different, so the type of retainer that is best for you will depend on your specific situation. Dr. Stosich typically advises against bonded retainers, however, because they get damaged easily and are difficult to clean
- What type of retainers will I get?
Dr. Stosich’s patients all receive custom clear retainers once their braces come off. Some orthodontists use Hawley retainers, which may be what you think of when you think of a retainer. A clear retainer will be similar to an clear aligner (think Invisalign), and a Hawley retainer is made of acrylic and a metal wire.
- Which retainer is best for an overbite patient?
There is no retainer that is best for any and all situations – each is dependent upon the individual patient and his or her needs. Removable retainers are more preferable in the upper arch, however, but must wear it as directed by their orthodontist to prevent relapse.
- What is the best retainer for an adult after braces?
This all depends on your orthodontist’s recommendations and your preferences. Many adults prefer the aesthetics of clear retainers. Because they are like iDentity clear aligners, they are virtually invisible.
- What type of retainer will I get after iDentity clear aligner therapy?
Dr. Stosich provides all of his patients with custom clear aligners once their braces treatment is finished, whether they used Invisalign or not. They will look much like your iDentity clear aligners did, and will be created using the same state-of-the-art technology.
- Can retainers be used to close small gaps?
No, retainers should not be used on their own without braces. Closing a gap in one part of the mouth may create a new gap in a different part of the mouth.
- Are there retainers for missing teeth?
If you are missing a tooth, it can lead to problems with your bite as other teeth will have tendency to drift into the empty location. Removable appliances that look similar to a retainer can be created to fill in this spot with a false tooth. Known as a partial denture, it is typically a metal framework with acrylic material that holds the false teeth in the right places. Dr. Stosich can also work with you to create a custom clear retainer with a prosethetic tooth to ensure your smile is as beautiful as possible.
- What are the retainers that are like Invisalign?
Invisalign has their own retainers, known as Vivera, that can be used after braces are removed. Essix retainers are also similar to Invisalign aligners. Both are clear retainers, making them virtually invisible to others. Dr. Stosich provides all of his patients with iDentity custom clear retainers.
- Can you wear elastics with a retainer?
- When is a retainer with a tongue cage needed?
This is not actually a retainer, but rather is a habit breaking appliance that is used to encourage patients to quit a bad habit, such as tongue thrusting or thumbsucking. The cage will make it uncomfortable for the patient to continue the habit. This is important because both of these habits can be detrimental to the smile, and curbing the habits as soon as possible will prevent more serious orthodontic issues.
- What colors can my retainer come in?
Some can be customized in your choice of color, but many patients prefer the aesthetics that clear aligners provide. All of Dr. Stosich’s patients receive a custom clear aligner when their braces are removed.
- Can I wear a retainer without getting braces?
No, your smile cannot be corrected without braces. If you don’t like the idea of traditional braces, there are a host of options available to you, including iDentity clear aligners, that can help you get an ideal smile in a more aesthetically pleasing way.
2-Retainer care and maintenance – why does the retainer smell, how to care for it, etc.
- Why do retainers turn white?
If your retainer has started to turn white, it’s important to first know why that is happening, and then know how to properly clean it. Your retainer, just like your teeth, can have plaque and tartar build up on it. The white spots we see on retainers are often caused by calcium deposits left over from saliva. This build up happens when the retainers are not properly cleaned. Eve if you brush and floss your mouth as diligently as possible, your retainer will still get dirty because there are just naturally bacteria that live in our mouths.
- Why do retainers turn white?
To prevent your retainer from getting these white spots, it’s important to properly clean and maintain it. You need to clean your retainer every time you take it out of your mouth. If you don’t, the debris that has accumulated on the retainer can harden, making it that much more difficult to remove. You can brush your retainer using a soft bristled toothbrush and can use just water or a mild dish soap. Never use an abrasive (including toothpaste) because it can scratch the finish of the retainer.
Patients can also soak their retainer in a denture or retainer cleaner. To keep the retainer as clean as possible, do this each day. When you remove the retainer for a meal, drop it in an anti-bacterial cleaner to soak, then rinse it with lukewarm water before returning it to your mouth.
- Why does my retainer smell so bad?
Even if you don’t notice calcium deposits on your retainer, you may notice that it has taken on an odor over time. People often ask orthodontists why their retainer smells like poop, or chlorine, or even sperm. The cause of the bad odor is the accumulation of plaque over time. You must brush your retainer regularly to clean it, however, it is also important to soak your retainer in a cleaning solution to ensure that all this built up plaque can be removed.
If you regularly brush and soak your retainer, but still have a bad odor, it may be time to call your orthodontist. Your orthodontist’s office can professionally clean your retainer to remove the calcium deposits that have hardened over time.
3-Retainer Wear – pain and what to do about it
- Are retainers uncomfortable?
Retainers perform a very important job after your braces are removed – they ensure your teeth stay in the correct places. Just like it took your mouth a bit of time to get used to the braces, it will take some time to get used to the retainer. The retainer will feel tight in the beginning and may be slightly uncomfortable for the first couple of days. But in no time, your mouth will get used to it.
- Are retainers uncomfortable?
Your retainer should not continue to be painful or uncomfortable for more than 4-5 days. If you continue to experience pain, contact your orthodontist’s office right away. Your orthodontist can examine the fit of your retainer and ensure it fits properly in your mouth.
- Why are retainers so annoying?
First time retainer wearers often find the first several days of wearing the retainer to be a bit annoying. Not only will it be a bit uncomfortable, you’ll also notice your mouth creates excess saliva in the beginning, making speech a bit difficult at first. Practice talking in front of a mirror, and in a day or two, your mouth will adjust to having the retainer in and your speech will be back to normal.
If you find any part of your retainer is annoying the inside of your mouth, simply use a bit of orthodontic wax in those areas to alleviate any pain.
- Why do my retainers feel tight?
If you’ve had your retainer for a while and it is starting to feel tight, the most likely culprit is that you haven’t been wearing it enough. Even just a day or two can of not wearing it can lead your teeth to shift slightly, making the retainer feel tight when it is put back in.
If you are wondering why your retainer hurts so much when you put it in, stop to think when the last time you wore it was. If it isn’t worn daily, at least during sleep at night, it will feel tight and uncomfortable the next time you put it in. To prevent this from happening, wear your retainer exactly as your orthodontist recommended.
- How do retainers feel?
There are different types of retainers, which will each have a different feel in the mouth.
Hawley retainers consist of acrylic and a metal wire that goes around the teeth. An custom clear retainer looks similar to an iDentity clear aligner and is made of clear, smooth plastic that fits completely over the teeth. A permanent, or bonded, retainer, is glued to the back of the teeth to ensure the teeth cannot relapse.
You may notice that in the first couple of days you wear your retainer, it feels slightly tight and may be a bit uncomfortable. But don’t worry, your mouth will get used to it in no time. Likewise, if you wear a removable retainer and forget to wear it for a while, you’ll notice when you put it back in, it may hurt a bit. It’s important to wear your retainer exactly as your orthodontist tells you so you can avoid pain.
Your mouth will probably feel a bit weird for the first couple of days with a retainer, but you’ll adjust quickly.
- Are retainers supposed to be tight or hurt?
If you’ve heard a friend talk about their retainer hurting or feeling tight in their mouths, your question should be to ask if they are wearing it as their orthodontist told them to. Chances are good, if your retainer feels extra tight or hurts, it’s because you haven’t been wearing it as prescribed. It may be slightly uncomfortable or tight in the first couple of days, but after that, if you are wearing it as you should, it shouldn’t bother you.
If it feels tight, you may be tempted to stop wearing it altogether. But, if you stop wearing it, you’re ensuring your new smile won’t stay for long. Without wearing your retainer, your teeth will move. Some people find they go back to the orthodontist as an adult to correct a smile that has already been corrected, but wasn’t maintained. Just like in the beginning of wearing the retainer, it may take a few days to get used to it again. If the retainer is too uncomfortable to wear, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to see about getting a new retainer.
- Why does my retainer hurt to take out?
If you are new to wearing a retainer, it can take some time to get used to it, and that includes putting it in and taking it out of your mouth. The first few times you take it out may be uncomfortable. Be sure you are removing it properly, as shown by your orthodontic staff.
- What do retainers look like?
What your retainer will look like depends on which type of retainer you wear.
- A Hawley retainer, which consists of an acrylic palate that goes in the mouth and a metal wire that goes across the teeth. These can come in a variety of colors, and can even have designs on the acrylic palate piece.
- An Essix retainer looks similar to an iDentity aligner. It is made from a clear plastic, and fits entirely over the teeth.
- A bonded retainer is a thin wire that goes across the back of the teeth and is bonded directly to the teeth with a dental glue.
All of Dr. Stosich’s patients receive a custom clear retainer when braces treatment is complete.
- How is a retainer put in?
Again, this depends on the type of retainer you wear. A bonded retainer will be placed by your orthodontist in his or her office. Using a bonding glue that is similar to what held your braces brackets in place, the wire will be glued directly to the teeth.
A Hawley retainer, made of acrylic and metal, will be placed in and taken out of the mouth throughout the day by you. It is important to listen to your orthodontist’s staff about how to properly remove it to ensure you don’t damage it in any way. It is important not to try to bite your retainer into place as this could cause damage. Gently place it on the roof of your mouth, and use your fingers to snap it into place.
An Essix retainer will be placed the same as an iDentity clear aligner would – gently place the retainer entirely over the teeth.
- How much do retainers cost?
Your retainer will be included in the cost of your orthodontic treatment. However, if you need to replace a retainer, the cost will vary, depending on the type of retainer you choose. A set of Hawley retainers can cost between $300-$600. An Essix retainer can cost between $200-$500. Bonded retainers typically cost $250-$500 for one row of teeth. Many orthodontists have smile for life programs, however, where for a small fee, you can be fit with a new retainer any time.
- Why are retainers so expensive?
When you stop to think about the job a retainer, spending a few hundred dollars on one doesn’t seem as bad. A retainer is a tool you will keep for life to ensure your smile stays beautiful and straight. You more than likely spent a few thousand dollars on that smile, so spending a few hundred more to ensure it works properly for life it a great investment. The cost of a retainer doesn’t seem as expensive once you stop to understand its purpose in your treatment.
- When do you pay for your retainer?
This all depends on how you pay for your orthodontic treatment. Be sure when you begin treatment that all the costs associated with that treatment, including the retainers you’ll need once the braces are removed, are included in the final quote.
- Are retainers covered by insurance?
If orthodontic treatment is covered by your insurance, this will most likely cover the cost of your retainer, as well. Retainers are typically considered part of braces treatment. However, if you lose your retainer and need a new one, some insurance plans may not cover the cost of a replacement. If you do not have insurance, you will be responsible for the cost of all treatment, including retainers. Many orthodontists offices offer discounts for paying the entire fee upfront before treatment begins.
- Are retainers cheaper than braces?
Yes, a retainer is quite a bit cheaper than braces, however, retainers alone cannot provide the tooth movement most orthodontic patients require to improve their bites.
- How many retainer sets are needed after braces?
In a perfect world, if you wear your retainer exactly as your orthodontists recommends and take proper care of it, you would only need one set. But, we know this doesn’t always happen, and sometimes accidents happen, so Dr. Stosich offers a unique smile for life program, where for a small one-time fee, you can receive a replacement retainer at any time, at no additional charge to you.
5-Retainer wear – how long and when to wear it
- How long do I need to wear my retainer?
Your orthodontist will give you exact instructions when your braces are removed. Most patients will need to wear their retainers around the clock for the first several months to a year. After that, the retainer will need to be worn at least overnight for the rest of your life.
- Are retainers forever?
Yes, you will need to wear your retainer forever, if you don’t want your teeth to shift over time. Everyone experiences some degree of tooth movement as they age, but wearing your retainer will ensure that your beautiful smile will last a lifetime.
- Are retainers permanent?
There is a type of retainer that many call a permanent retainer, however, the better term is bonded retainer. This type of retainer is bonded with an orthodontic glue to the teeth. It will last for quite a while, but is not actually permanent.
- How long do I need to wear my retainer?
Retainers should become a daily part of your life, even if you have a removable retainer, and the retainer should be worn at least overnight for the rest of your life.
- Are retainers lifelong?
Yes, to ensure your beautiful smile, your retainer should be worn for the rest of your life.
- What happens if I forget to wear my retainers for a week?
If this happens in the days or weeks right after your braces are removed, it could pose a big problem – your teeth may shift. The ligaments that hold your teeth in place are elastic, and the retainer’s job is to help your teeth stay in place while the ligaments get used to the new locations. Forgetting to wear your retainer before the ligaments have adjusted may mean you’ll see some shifting, and your retainer will be uncomfortable to put back in. If this happens, make an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible so he or she can help. Remember, your relationship with your orthodontist doesn’t end the day your braces come off. We can continue to help you whenever you need us.
- Will wearing retainers make it hard for me to talk?
When you first get your retainers, you will notice your speech might be slightly impacted. Your mouth will probably produce extra saliva while it is getting used to the appliance, which can alter your speech some. But don’t worry, this shouldn’t last more than a couple of days. To speed it up, practice talking in a mirror.
- Can I wear my retainers while eating?
No, you should always remove your retainer before eating. Eating with it in can damage it, causing it to fit improperly.
- Should I wear my retainer while sleeping?
Yes, you should always wear your retainer at night while you sleep. In the beginning of retainer wear, you’ll wear it around the clock, but to ensure your smile stays straight for a lifetime, you’ll want to continue wearing your retainer at night forever.
- Should I wear my retainer while I’m sick?
Yes, you should wear your retainer when you are sick. However, it will be extra important to properly clean it to ensure you are removing any germs that may linger. Brush it regularly and soak it in retainer cleaner (denture cleaner will work) to ensure you keep any germs at bay.
- Do I really have to remove my retainers when eating, even if it’s just a quick snack?
Yes, every time you eat you must remove your retainer. Eating with it in can damage the retainer.
- Can you wear retainers when pregnant?
Yes, you can undergo any routine dental or orthodontic procedures while pregnant. However, you may notice that your gums are a bit more sensitive during pregnancy, so the retainers might be a bit more uncomfortable than they were prior to pregnancy. However, it is completely safe to wear them and will prevent your teeth from shifting.
6-Retainers and daily life
- What shouldn’t I do with my retainers?
- Never stop wearing your retainer, or alter your time wearing your retainer, unless instructed by your orthodontist.
- Never eat with your retainer in. If you wear a clear retainer, you should also avoid drinking anything but water with the retainer in to prevent discoloration or damage.
- Don’t forget to clean your retainer regularly.
- Never wrap your retainer in a napkin when taking it out as this can be easy to forget. Always place it in a case when it isn’t in your mouth to avoid accidentally throwing it away or forgetting it.
- Don’t leave your retainer in a place where a pet could get it and damage it.
- Never leave your retainer in hot place, such as a warm car in summer, or put it in boiling water.
- Never chew or play with your retainer.
- What can I expect while wearing my retainer?
In the first couple of days of wearing your retainer, it might feel a bit annoying and your speech might sound different. But in not time, this will go away and your retainer will become a seamless part of your life. Your orthodontist will give you care instructions and directions on how and when to wear it. If you ever have questions or concerns, your orthodontist is always available to assist you.
- Do I need to remove my retainer before brushing my teeth?
Yes, you should always remove your retainer while brushing and flossing. While you are brushing, you can place your retainer in special cleaner to soak in order to remove any bacteria or debris that may have accumulated during the day.
- What is the best way to clean my retainer?
Your retainer will get dirty, and just like your teeth, can accumulate tartar and plaque. It’s very important to properly clean your retainer to ensure your mouth stays healthy. Each day, soak your retainer in Efferdent and gently brush it with a mild, non-abrasive toothpaste.
- When should I clean my retainer?
Your retainer should be cleaned as soon as it is removed from your mouth. It will be easier to remove the debris while the retainer is still wet from your saliva. Allowing it to dry will also allow the debris to harden, making it more difficult to remove.
- What cleans retainers?
The best way to clean your retainer is by soaking it in Efferdent. However, you can also brush it with a non-abrasive toothpaste.
- When should I wear my retainers?
You should wear your retainers as often as your orthodontist tells you to. Failing to do so, especially immediately following your braces coming off, will almost certainly guarantee relapse. However, you should continue to wear your retainer for life, as your teeth will naturally shift as you age.
- When are retainers used?
Retainers are always used after braces are removed, but can be used a few other times, as well. Special retainers can be used to help someone stop a bad habit, like tongue thrusting or thumbsucking, or can be worn at night to help with breathing and sleep apnea. Retainers can also be used to help people who suffer from temperomandibular joint disorders, or a condition called bruxism, which occurs when a patient grinds their teeth.
- When should retainers be replaced?
How long your retainer will last will depend on the type of retainer you have, and on you.
- What shouldn’t I do with my retainers?
If you have a bonded retainer, it will most likely need to be replaced a few years after it is placed because the bonding glue may become loose. Bonded retainers on the top front teeth will most likely be replaced more often because the bottom teeth will bite into it every time you bite down, which over time will lead to the bonding material coming loose.
For removable retainers, the best time to replace your retainer is if it doesn’t look or fit like it used to. In this case, it may be time for an adjustment or a new retainer altogether.
- How often will I need a new retainer?
With normal wear and tear with regular use, orthodontic patients will need a new retainer approximately every twelve months.
- When do retainers stop working? Should I replace mine when it stops hurting to wear?
You retainer should not stop working, as long as it is being worn properly and isn’t damaged in any way. Your retainer may feel uncomfortable for the first few days, but this will go away. That doesn’t mean it isn’t working, however.
- I lost my retainers – where could they be?
Removable retainers are wonderful, but they have their drawbacks. Because they are removable, they are easy to misplace. The most common place people find a missing retainer is actually in the trash. If you remove your retainer to eat, but don’t place it in a case, it can be easy to accidentally throw away. Some patients, especially in the beginning of retainer wear, find they remove their retainers while they sleep without even knowing it. If you wake up without your retainer in, checking your bed! Check the bottom of your backpack or purse – perhaps you removed it and threw it in without thinking. Check counters and desks. It’s easy to take your retainer out to brush your teeth, then forget to put it back in before walking away. Check your car, your driveway, and even your pet. Plenty of retainers have been grabbed by a family dog and used as chew toys!
- Where should I keep and store my retainer?
If your retainer isn’t in your mouth, it should be in its case.
- Where should I get my retainer fixed?
If you retainer has been damaged or needs to be adjusted, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist.
- Where are retainers made?
Retainers are handmade, designed specifically for each individual patient. Your orthodontist will take impressions of your teeth once your braces are removed and carefully craft your retainer right in the office.
- Can I buy a retainer on Amazon?
Amazon may indeed sell everything from A to Z, but you should never purchase orthodontic appliances online. Retainers must be created specifically for you and your teeth, so you should only wear a retainer that has been created for you by your orthodontist.
- Where can I buy a retainer?
You should only use a retainer that has been created for you by your orthodontist. You may be able to find clear aligners, retainers and other “orthodontic” appliances for purchase online, but you should never use an appliance that hasn’t been custom created for your smile.
7-What’s iDentity Orthodontics Smile Guarantee? Is that for retainers?
- The iDentity Ortho Smile Guarantee (IOSG) is the only way to make sure your fabulous smile stays fabulous! When you get orthodontic treatment from us, you can sleep well knowing that if you are unhappy with the alignment of your teeth at any time in the future, we will place you back in orthodontic treatment using braces or aligners for six months or less for a very reasonable flat fee. This also includes a new retainer at the end.