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949-272-8782

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949-272-8782

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Mon-Fri: 9-6 & Sat: 9-3

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Call Us

949-272-8782

Opening Hours

Mon-Fri: 9-6 & Sat: 9-3

Book Appointment

Free Consultation and Exam

50 Facts About Completing Orthodontic Treatment and Wearing Retainers

Ladera Ranch, CABraces and retainers go hand in hand and they are both equally very important. Here are a few facts about braces and retainers that you may not know about!

  1. There are currently about four million Americans wearing braces, so you aren’t alone in your orthodontic journey. All will transition to retainers after active tooth movement.
  2. Once your braces are removed, your teeth will be polished, we then X-rays, photos, and scans/impressions of your teeth.
  3. Getting fitted for a retainer will typically take place the same day your braces are removed at Ladera Orthodontics.
  4. Most think that teeth are firmly set in our jaw bones, but the teeth are actually held in place by the periodontal ligaments (PDL), which need plenty of time to adjust to the new positions.
  5. Retainers do just what their name implies – retain your teeth in the locations they were moved to.
  6. Without wearing a retainer, your teeth have a tendency to drift back to where they were before treatment.
  7. In the beginning, you’ll wear your upper retainer around the clock, only removing it to eat, brush, and floss. If we place a lingual or fixed retainer, you’ll wear your lower retainer at nighttime only.
  8. When Drs. Gire and Salmassian believe your mouth has stabilized, your retainer wear can be adjusted to only wearing it at night.
  9. Dr. Gire and Dr. Salmassian recommend you wear your retainer at least at night forever. We like to say, “nighttime for a lifetime.”
  10. Our teeth have a tendency to shift as we age, so wearing your retainer at night can help ensure your smile stays as straight as the day your braces were removed.
  11. There are a few different types of retainers, and Drs. Gire and Salmassian will recommend the retainer they believes is right for you.
  12. According to a study by Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, the majority of orthodontists recommend removable retainers, but nearly 40% prescribe fixed retainers for their patients.
  13. According to the same study, most orthodontists recommend wearing removable retainers full time for the first nine months, and then recommend part-time wear forever.
  14. The same researchers also surveyed orthodontic patients to learn more about patient compliance and found that 60% of patients said they wore their retainers more than 10 hours a day in the first three months.
  15. 69% of patients wore their retainers every night.
  16. By the time these same patients reached the 19-24 month marks, 19% were not wearing their retainers anymore.
  17. 81% of patients, however, were still wearing their retainers, even if it was only one night a week.
  18. When you think of a retainer, you probably think of what is known as a Hawley retainer. This type of retainer is made of an acrylic piece that is molded to fit over your palate and the inside of your lower teeth. It also has a metal wire that fits over the front of the teeth.
  19. Hawley retainers used to be the go to retainer after braces were removed but are not as commonly used today.
  20. A Hawley retainer will likely affect your speech as the acrylic palate piece will cover your anterior upper palate – that means your tongue will need time to adjust to forming sounds with the retainer in.
  21. Vacuum-formed retainers or clear, aligner-type retainers are gaining in popularity.
  22. Clear retainers are made of a clear plastic. They are designed to fit more precisely over the teeth to retain their locations.
  23. Clear retainers are virtually invisible making them very popular with patients who are anxious to show off their new smiles.
  24. Orthodontists often find that because clear plastic retainers are less noticeable when worn, patients are more likely to wear them as directed.
  25. Some studies, however, have shown that while the compliance of patients wearing clear retainers is higher in the beginning of the retention phase, after two years the compliance is actually higher in patients who wear Hawley retainers.
  26. If you require any adjustments to the clear retainer, you will have to replace it with a new one – this could play a part in slightly lower retention rates after several years.
  27. There are three main brands of clear retainers – Essix, Zendura, and Biocryl. There are other brands such as Vivera which is made by the same company that makes Invisalign.
  28. Fixed retainers may be an option for some patients, especially those with a higher risk of relapse or for patients who an orthodontist or parent worries won’t follow the instructions of wear of a removable retainer.
  29. Fixed retainers will not be able to be seen by others and cannot be removed by the wearer – a wire is bonded to the lingual (tongue) side of the teeth to retain the teeth’s new location.
  30. Fixed retainers are typically used on the bottom front teeth. They are many variations including a thin, multistrand, braided type of wire that is bonded individually to each tooth. There are thicker wires that are only bonded to the canine teeth as well. The wire lays against the other teeth assisting in preventing rotations and collapse of the anterior arch.
  31. Fixed retainers offer a predictable way to prevent future crowding or relapse of the incisors.
  32. Fixed retainers, if cared for, can be left in indefinitely.
  33. Because of how fixed retainers are placed, patients may need to use a floss threader to properly floss teeth, depending on dexterity.
  34. Historically, there have been concerns that fixed retainers may lead to an increase in cavities and periodontal problems but recent studies have shown that with proper care this is not the case.
  35. Just like when you first get braces, there will be a period of adjustment after you start wearing a retainer.
  36. You will likely produce more saliva the first few days of wearing your retainer.
  37. If you have a removable retainer, you’ll need to remove it when you eat, brush, and floss, otherwise you could risk damaging it.
  38. When you drink while wearing your removable retainer, be sure that it’s just water. If you drink anything else, excess liquid can get trapped under the retainer and this may intensify the exposure of sugar and/or acid on your teeth, increasing your risk of developing tooth decay.
  39. When your retainer is not in your mouth you should always place it in its case – putting it in a napkin while you eat leads to a higher risk of forgetting it and accidentally throwing it away.
  40. It may sound far-fetched but more than one patient has had their retainer ruined by a pet getting a hold of it. At Ladera Orthodontics, we like to say: “if it’s not in your face, it’s in the case.”
  41. The mouth is home to bacteria, plaque, and food debris so it is important to regularly clean your retainer. It is important to follow Drs. Gire and Salmassian’s recommendations for cleaning your retainer – clear retainers should be soaked in cleaning solution regularly and you should avoid brushing them with an abrasive toothpaste as this could damage the plastic.
  42. There are special retainer cleaning solutions but denture cleaner will also work to keep your retainer fresh and clean. The most economical way of keeping them clean is to soak them in clear/white vinegar. No need to dilute, soak them for about 30 minutes in a cup, remove, brush, rinse, and they’re like a brand new retainer.
  43. Retainers are shaped in heat and can easily distort if you leave them in very warm locations. Never put your retainer in extremely hot water or store it in a warm location as the plastic could warp, negatively affecting the fit.
  44. If you forget to wear your retainer for even a day or two you may notice that it feels a bit tight when you put it back in – but don’t let that discourage you from wearing it again.
  45. One study found that at the first retention visit, nearly 74% of patients were complying with retainer wear – but by the 12 month mark, that number dropped to 47.8%.
  46. The age a patient is when the retention phase begins also has an impact on compliance – one study found that older patients (over the age of 24) and young patients (younger than 14) had higher compliance rates.
  47. The length of time a patient spends in treatment may also play a part in the patient’s likelihood to comply with retainer wear – patients who are in braces for less than 30 months were found to be significantly more compliant with wearing their retainers, according to one study.
  48. The University of California at San Francisco, School of Dentistry piloted a study to create a Bluetooth enabled “smart retainer” to increase patient compliance. The retainer has a Bluetooth chip that will allow orthodontists and parents to see if the patient is wearing the retainer.
  49. The sensor in the SmartByte retainer can differentiate between body temperature and room temperature to determine if the retainer is being worn and then this information is then delivered directly to a mobile device and can be accessed via an app.
  50. Other “smart” retainers have been invented over the last decade or so but required the retainers to be docked in the orthodontists office so compliance could only be tracked if the patient was making frequent visits to the orthodontist.

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