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Clayton Fuller, D.D.S.- Orthodontist

312 I Street. Chula Vista, CA 91910     (619) 422-3223


Retainers

Retainers are used to hold the teeth in place, after treatment is completed. They are needed because the bone has a memory which wants to move your teeth back to where they were. A retainer can not move any teeth, it can only retain them where they are. It is sometimes confused with a Spring Retainer, which can move the teeth a little bit.

 

A spring retainer is more correctly called a removable appliance. It is only good for rotating or tipping a tooth; which is minor movement. It can not move the roots of the teeth or the jaws, so it can not correct a deep overbite or crowding. It looks like a retainer with metal levers (springs) on the inside.

Retainers can be made from plastic, wire, or a combination of the two. The standard retainer is the Hawley, which is made of plastic on the inside and wire along the outside of the teeth. This acts to retain the teeth in a narrow groove between the plastic and the wire. The plastic can be ordered in different colors and a sticker can be placed on the inside, if you like. It must be worn to be effective, since it is removable. Another removable type is the clear plastic retainer.

Retainers will effect your speech, in the beginning. This is because the plastic, on the roof of the mouth, will take up space that the tongue normally uses in pronunciation. Certain words are more difficult to say than others. After three days of wearing them, your tongue will have adapted to this and your speech will be normal again. If you are having trouble pronouncing words correctly, then practice reading out loud. The more you practice, the quicker your speech will return to normal. If you do not wear them because you are embarrassed about the way you speak, then your teeth will move out of alignment. If they move too far out of alignment, then your retainers will not fit and you will need braces again to make them straight.

Fixed retainers are made of wire that is bonded (glued) to the inside of the lower front teeth. These are used in cases in which the lower front teeth were crowded to start with and teeth were not removed to correct the crowding. They are also good for the forgetful patient, as they can not be taken out or lost.

You are suppose to wear your retainers all of the time for the first six months. After that, you can wear them at night only. Some people may need to wear their retainers full time for an even longer period of time, to prevent any shifting of the teeth. In some cases, permanent retention may be necessary. The retention period is an important part of your overall treatment and should not be ignored.

Here are some recommendations for the proper care of your retainers:

  • Carefully place the retainer appliance in your mouth. Use a mirror to see how to place it the first few times.

  • Wear them all of the time, for the first six months. You may remove them to eat, but remember to place them in the retainer case to avoid breakage, being forgotten, or wrapped in a napkin and discarded.

  • Brush your teeth and the retainer after each meal with your regular toothbrush and toothpaste.

  • Avoid keeping the appliances in excessive heat, such as the car dashboard, as this will distort them.

  • Keep the appliances away from pets and small children, who may break or lose them.

  • Always bring the appliances to each appointment, so they may be checked and adjusted as needed.

  • To correct your speech the first few days of wearing these, practice reading out-loud from a book or favorite magazine.

  • After the first six months, they can be worn at night only. After 24 months, they can be worn one night a week.




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