The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you keep these important patient responsibilities in mind:

Removable Appliances

Once the active orthodontic appliances are removed, the patient will receive retainers to stabilize the dental correction. Because the bone and soft tissues surrounding the teeth are stabilizing for several months after braces are removed, it is imperative that the retainers are worn as instructed. Failure to wear the retainers may result in undesirable movement of the teeth, which could necessitate re-treatment.

How Retainers are Worn

Because teeth can continue to move throughout life, we feel that individuals who have undergone orthodontic therapy should wear retainers indefinitely. Most patients start by wearing their retainers all the time, including sleeping for one year following the removal of braces, then switch to nighttime only.  Talk to Dr. Chen for the retainer protocol that he recommends for you.

After approximately one year, the patient can wear the retainer just at night. This is to allow the wisdom teeth to develop without ruining the patient’s beautiful smile. Dr. Andrew Chen will see you every six to nine months to make recommendations on the wisdom teeth and an X-ray may be taken to evaluate their position.

How to Care for Retainers

  • Retainers are made of a thermoplastic material that is sensitive to excessive heat, so they should be kept away from heaters, dishwashers, car dashboards or any place where the temperatures can rise
  • Retainers should be kept in their proper retainer case when they are not in the patient’s mouth.
  • Keep away from any family pets, as they like to chew on them.
  • Clean before and after placement in the mouth. Because the material used for fabrication is slightly porous, plaque tends to cling to the surfaces. Gentle scrubbing with a toothbrush and a mild liquid soap will remove the plaque. A denture cleaning solution, such as Efferdent, will aid in the removal of plaque and tartar. Be sure to rinse the retainers thoroughly after cleaning to remove any cleanser residue.

Because retainers are worn for years, they will need periodic replacement. Your original treatment contract includes one set of retainers after the braces are removed. If the retainers are lost or damaged due to neglect, there will be a charge for replacement. If the retainers become loose or break, contact our office immediately.

Fixed Retainers (Bonded Wire)

Ideally, this type of retainer, when selected, is recommended on remain behind the teeth for as long as it can be kept clean.  The only exception is if your family dentist says you are not keeping it clean and it is beginning to cause gum or bone problems. If this should occur, please have the bonded wire removed and replace it with a removable retainer. The removable retainer should then be worn as Dr. Chen prescribes. A fixed wire will protect the teeth as the patient gets older without worry of losing retainers.

Habits or Conditions that may require Alternative Retention

  • Mouth breathing
  • Clenching and/or grinding of teeth (muscle hyperactivity)
  • Tongue thrusting, low tongue posture or abnormal tongue posture
  • Playing certain musical instruments
  • Lip sucking
  • Pen or pencil biting
  • Spacing between the teeth or an open bite prior to treatment
  • Severely rotated teeth

A Myobrace and associated therapy may be recommended at a nominal charge to help combat the tendencies for teeth to return to their original position.

Our goal is to help your smile stay beautiful and healthy for a lifetime. Your cooperation is essential in order to achieve this worthy goal!

Dental Examinations and Cleanings

All patients who have completed treatment should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, which includes thorough brushing and flossing techniques, and should see their general dentist at least every six months for cleanings.