FAQ – Retainers

The Midlands Orthodontic Specialists in Birmingham

What are retainers for?

Retainers are what you wear after orthodontic treatment has finished to reduce the chances of your teeth moving. Quite literally they are designed to retain the teeth in their new position. There are many different types of retainer but we use two main types, removable and fixed retainers. The first is removable and the second is stuck to the inside surface of the teeth.

Will they move my teeth?

No, they are designed to hold them in the same position only.

How long will I have to wear them?

The simple answer to this is as long as you want to keep your teeth straight. Our teeth move throughout life and this was noticed by an orthodontist called Horowitz in the 1920s and he described these new movements as physiological change. New movements can occur even if you have not had braces, and so retaining the result is very important for most people.

When will they be fitted?

We endeavour to fit your retainers within 15 minutes of removing your braces. Sometimes fixed retainers require time to construct, it depends upon the type of fixed retainer that you need.

How long will I have to wait for them?

Fixed retainers can be fitted either immediately or we may need to take an impression and have a lab make one which may take a week. We are proud of the fact that we can fit removable retainers in 15 minutes after the braces have been removed.

How do I clean them?

Removable retainers that we provide should always be cleaned with cold water. The reason for this is that they are themoplastic and could melt with hot water. For the same reason they should be stored in a cool place, away from radiators or direct sunlight. They should always be stored away from animals such as dogs. Dogs are attracted to them.

How do I clean my teeth with them in?

With a fixed retainer you will have to clean around this by using a good tooth brush but also supporting this with inter dental tooth brushes such as Tepe brushes which you can buy in different sizes. Floss cannot be used with fixed retainers so we suggest trying super floss. If you want to know more about this, please mention it at one of your appointments.

I have a metal allergy, will this be a problem?

Please mention this to us. We can either use a removable plastic retainer or use a precious metal fixed retainer. We will discuss this with you.

How much should I wear my removable retainers?

We normally suggest wearing your retainers full time for three days which helps you to get used to them and then go to just wearing them at night. It should be every night though and if the retainers feel tight in the evening, this is a sign that your teeth may be trying to move. If you do miss a night you should try wearing your retainers full time to try and bring back what has been lost. If you miss too many nights you may suddenly notice that the retainers do not fit any more, or become uncomfortable to wear or even worse, your teeth have moved.

How long will they last?

Our retainers will tend to last anything from two years to six years. Some people clench their teeth a lot and so they will not last as long if this is the case.

Will they affect my jaws?

They will not affect your jaws but growth can still happen following treatment.

How should I store them?

They should be kept in a sturdy case with your name and a contact number on. You should keep your retainers in a cool place, away from direct sunlight and away from any direct heat source such as a radiator.

How much should I wear my fixed retainers?

Your fixed retainers are stuck in, so they cannot be removed but you should also have removable retainers and these will need to be worn every night.

How long will they last?

Fixed retainers can last for 10 years and sometimes longer. You may have a breakage though and these will need to be repaired, so it is important that bonded retainers are monitored by somebody.

How long will I need my fixed retainer for?

Once you have a fixed retainer in place, it is best to consider it a permanent fixture that may need maintenance and repairs from time to time.

How do I clean my retainers?

With a fixed retainer you will have to clean around this by using a good tooth brush but also supporting this with inter dental tooth brushes such as Tepe brushes which you can buy in different sizes. Floss cannot be used with fixed retainers so we suggest trying super floss. If you want to know more about this, please mention it at one of your appointments.

Will they affect my bite?

Sometimes the bite is too tight to fit a fixed retainer but the other problem with these is that the vertical overlap between our teeth can gradually increase over many years and this means that some people who had a fixed retainer fitted may eventually find that their lower teeth bite against it and then it is likely to fail.

What happens if my fixed retainer breaks?

The best thing to do is to put your removable retainer in and see an orthodontist to have the retainer repaired. It is best not to cut the wire because if you do the whole retainer needs to be taken off and replaced. This can be both time consuming and expensive and may also lead to you needing a new removable retainer as well.

What are fixed retainers made of?

Some are made of precious metals and others are made of stainless steel.

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