The day you finish orthodontic treatment and see your new smile for the very first time is an incredible experience! Unfortunately, your teeth have an 86% chance of relapse (moving back to their original position) without lifetime retention. Retention (wearing retainers) is the only way to ensure that your teeth will stay straight for a lifetime. After braces are removed or Invisalign treatment is complete it can take up to six months time for your bone, ligaments, and surrounding tissues to remodel around your new tooth positions. Therefore, the first six months after treatment is complete is a very critical time for retainer wear. Teeth can also shift due to an imbalance of pressures between your tongue and lips. Additionally, teeth tend to shift throughout life as a normal part of aging, so lifetime retention is key. The only proven way to maintain your newly achieved smile and prevent orthodontic relapse (tooth movement after orthodontic treatment is complete) is to wear a retainer indefinitely.
DR. DURBIN’S RETAINER RESEARCH
TYPES OF RETAINERS
- FIXED RETAINERS: Fixed retainers are composed of an FDA approved metal wire and are bonded to the top and bottom front 6 teeth using resin (the same “glue” used with braces and Invisalign attachments). Drs. Durbin, Morris, and Garner highly recommend fixed retainers because they are worn 24/7 and cannot be accidentally lost or thrown away like clear retainers. However, they require good oral hygiene and occasional maintenance costs. Since fixed retainers are bonded to the back of your teeth, you will need to use a Waterpik or floss to clean around the wire and between your teeth. We highly recommend a Waterpik because current research indicates that it is more effective in removing plaque than floss. Floss can also become stuck and break your fixed retainers. Maintenance costs tend to be very minimal as long as patients do not bite into hard/sticky food with their front teeth. It is important to understand that you will be eating and chewing on your fixed retainers multiple times a day, so normal wear and tear can occur over time. If your fixed retainer becomes damaged, we only charge our cost of materials to repair it. We have many patients who have had zero fixed retainer breakage in 15+ years!
- REMOVABLE RETAINERS: Removable retainers are made of FDA approved plastic or acrylic/wires and are worn as prescribed by your orthodontist. Our doctors typically recommend full time wear for one month after braces are removed or Invisalign treatment is complete. We will evaluate your teeth and retainers after one month and if everything looks great we will recommend nightly (at least 8 hours/night) retainer wear for a lifetime. Clear back-up retainers (clear retainers that fit over fixed retainers) offer many advantages including protection of your tooth alignment and bite in case your fixed retainer breaks, protection of your tooth edges if you grind your teeth at night, and they can also be used for teeth whitening. The obvious drawback to removable retainers is patient compliance. If you don’t wear them, they will not work! Removable retainers can be lost or damaged (dogs love to chew on retainers!). If removable retainers are broken or lost retainers we only charge the lab fee for replacement.
It is important to remember that while no retainer is perfect, they are absolutely necessary to maintain your new smile! If your fixed or removable retainer is lost or broken, this is an emergency - please contact our office ASAP because your teeth could begin shifting within 24-48 hours. Drs. Durbin, Morris, and Garner want your new smile to last a lifetime!
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN IMPROVING YOUR SMILE?
Are you interested in improving your smile with Invisalign or braces? Trust your smile to an orthodontic specialist. Drs. Durbin, Morris, and Garner are Diamond Level Top 1% Invisalign Providers, which means that they have the knowledge, experience, and expertise needed to correct even complex malocclusions with Invisalign.