Orthodontic Retainers

The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime if you wear your retainers. Dr. McMahon encourages wearing retainers for as long and as often as possible. We want your smile to stay beautiful and straight for years to come! To make sure that happens, you have important responsibilities as a patient post-treatment, which are outlined below. 

AAO retainers Anchored Orthodontics in Minnetonka, MN

Removable Retainers

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 solidifying and being stabilized 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 lead to re-treatment.

Because teeth can continue to move throughout life, we recommend that individuals who have undergone orthodontic therapy should wear retainers indefinitely. A patient should wear retainers as much as possible for 3 months following the removal of braces.  After approximately 3 months, the patient can wear the orthodontic retainer just at night.  Dr. McMahon will see you for retainer checks once your braces are removed.  

How to Care for Orthodontic 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 exceed 115 degrees (Fº).
  • Retainers should be kept in the 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. There may come a point when the retainers break, get lost or get excessively worn. Dr. McMahon encourages you to reach out to Anchored Orthodontics as soon as possible so we can make you a new retainer.  They will be a charge for new retainers, but the maintenance is important to avoid future treatment.  

Fixed Retainers (Bonded Wire)

This wire can stay on forever! However, 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 return to Anchored Orthodontics to have the wire removed and replaced it with a removable retainer. The removable retainer should then be worn as Dr. McMahon prescribes. It is possible for the bonded retainer to break or come loose throughout your life, if that happens, again return to Anchored Orthodontics and Dr. McMahon will review your options for replacement.  

Habits or Conditions that Require Stronger Retention

  • Mouth breathing
  • Clenching and/or grinding of teeth (muscle hyperactivity)
  • Tongue thrusting, low tongue posture, or abnormal tongue posture
  • Lip sucking
  • Open Bites
  • Spacing between the teeth prior to treatment
  • Severely rotated teeth

Our goal is to help your smile stay beautiful and healthy for a lifetime!  Dr. McMahon will customize your retention plans to your mouth and personal needs.  However in order to keep teeth straight, your cooperation is essential in order to achieve this goal.

Dental Examinations and Cleanings

It is important to continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, including thorough brushing and flossing techniques. Your family dentist should see you at least every six months for cleaning and dental examinations.