Smiling happily ever after
Once you have attained your confident smile and perfectly positioned teeth, it makes sense to keep them that way. This is the job of retainers. Custom-made, they reduce the possibility of your teeth migrating to their original positions, a term known as ‘relapse’.
Quick Guide To Retainers
Step 1: Making the mould
We make a mould of your teeth, which our lab technician turns into a retainer. A retainer is made from transparent plastic.
Step 2: Fitting the retainer
Retainers are a bit like a close fitting gumshield, they fit snugly over the top of your teeth and can sometimes feel a bit tight. Don’t worry about that, they’re supposed to. This will ease over the first few days.
Step 3: Cleaning your retainer
It is very important to keep your retainers clean, as they will become smelly and dirty if not cleaned regularly. Simply hold your retainer under warm water and use a toothbrush in a small circular motion in every contour of the retainer. Never use hot water as this can melt your retainer and it will not fit properly.
Step 4: Storing your retainer
Rinse the retainer in water after cleaning and store in your retainer box until the evening. We recommend ‘Efferves’ and ‘Retainer Brite’, which are cleaning tablets for your retainer as this kills 99% of the odour-causing bacteria. It is important periodically to clean your retainer box as well. ‘Effreves’ and ‘Retainer Brite’ can be purchased in the practice.
Step 5: Wearing your retainer
It is critical that you wear your retainers every night. If you don’t, your teeth will move. They look fabulous today, let’s keep them that way.
Your Questions Answered
How long will I have to wear the retainers?
This will vary for each patient. Generally you will be asked to wear a removable retainer every night for a minimum of 6 months and then it may be possible to reduce your wear slightly, but we would always recommend that you should continue wearing your retainers at least 2 nights per week indefinitely. You should expect your teeth to move a little if you stop wearing retainers. Changes in the position of your teeth can continue throughout life and are part of the normal ageing process. The only way to have permanently straight teeth is to wear a retainer on a part-time basis for life.
How might a retainer affect me?
With a removable retainer your speech will be different at first. Practice speaking with the retainer in place e.g. read out aloud at home on your own. In this way, your speech will return to normal within a couple of days. To begin with you may produce more saliva and have to swallow more than normal. However, we normally ask you to wear the retainers in bed at night, so this should not really be too much of a problem. With a fixed retainer you will need to take extra care to keep it clean.
What about brushing?
Take the removable retainer out to clean your teeth. Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, twice a day. Use fluoride toothpaste. If possible, carry a brush with you for use after lunch. You should also gently clean the retainer with a toothbrush and cold water over a sink. To further protect the teeth, use an alcohol-free fluoride mouth rinse daily. Avoid eating or rinsing for 20 minutes after using it. Sugary snacks/drinks and poor cleaning of your teeth and retainer will lead to permanent damage to your teeth.
What about contact sports?
You should obtain a new gumshield now that you are wearing retainers. You should wear a gumshield instead of your removable retainer when you play contact sports. This will also be the case if you take part in activities requiring a protective helmet e.g. cycling or horse riding. When not in your mouth, the retainer should be kept in a protective box.
- Retainer wear is your personal responsibility.
- Most patients will need to wear retainers long-term i.e. for life, to keep their teeth straight.
- Contact us immediately if you damage or lose your retainer.
- Brush your teeth for 2 minutes at least twice each day.
- Avoid sugary snacks & drinks between meals and at bedtime.