Orthodontic Retainers

Keep Your New Smile for Life!

Once Dr. Held removes your braces, you’ll start the last phase of your treatment: retention. Retainers are an essential part of orthodontic treatment. Now begins the important job of keeping your teeth and jaws in their new, correct positions after your teeth have been straightened and your jaws have developed. And retainers are the key!

At WingHaven® Orthodontics, the first set of upper and lower retainers is included as a part of your orthodontic treatment to help you to keep the smile that you worked so hard to get. We love sharing the most advanced after-treatment options. All that it will take is your commitment to wear the retainers. Together, we make that easy!

Removable Retainers

We offer clear, durable retainers that are nearly invisible to the naked eye, need only to be worn 10 to 12 hours per day, and do not significantly affect speech. Clear retainers are the best choice of retainers for most patients. Traditional “Hawley” retainers are also available and indicated for a select number of patients with unique orthodontic needs.

Dr. Held and her Team will instruct you in person on how to care for your retainers. You may also refer to the information in the Retainer Instructions sections below.

Because the bone and soft tissues surrounding the teeth are solidifying and being stabilized for several months after braces are removed, and because teeth can continue to move throughout life, wearing your retainers as directed is critical to prevent relapse of your treatment (i.e. undesired shifting of your teeth and jaws), which could lead to the need for retreatment. Teeth have a memory and will want to go back to their original positions. Proper retainer wear will prevent this unwanted movement.

The benefits of orthodontic treatment will last a lifetime, if you wear your retainers the prescribed 10 to 12 hours per day for life. We want your smile to stay beautiful and straight for years to come!

Clear retainer WingHaven Orthodontics in O'Fallon, MO
Retainer WingHaven Orthodontics in O'Fallon, MO

General Retainer Instructions

  • Wear your retainers 10 to 12 hours daily for life unless Dr. Held instructs you otherwise.
  • Follow Dr. Held’s instructions regarding removing and inserting your retainers to avoid damaging them.
    1. Never use your tongue or teeth to remove or insert your retainers because doing so will weaken them over time and cause them to break.
    2. Always use two hands to insert and remove the retainers, doing so with a gentle, vertical force.
    3. Never pull on the front of the retainers to remove them, when the backs are engaged. They will crack at the Canine regions of the retainers.
  • ALWAYS put your retainers in the case when they are not in your mouth or being cleaned!
  • Always bring your retainers to your orthodontic appointments.
  • Initially, your speech may change just a little bit with the retainers in place. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to adjust to them quickly. Focus on repeating any altered sounds. With practice, your speech will return to normal.
  • Retainers are breakable, and replacement can be expensive, but with proper care, your retainers will last for years!
  • If your retainers do become loose, uncomfortable, lost, or broken, they need to be adjusted or replaced. Please text or call our office to schedule an appointment for an adjustment. Do not attempt to adjust your retainers yourself.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about your retainers, please text or call our office. We are happy to help you in any way that we can!

Retainer Cleaning Instructions

Cleaning Do’s

  • Because the plastic retainer material is slightly porous, plaque tends to cling to the surfaces. Clean your retainers thoroughly twice daily.
  • Use antibacterial soap and cool or cold water (never hot), homemade baking soda paste, or Retainer Brite® along with the special retainer brush that we give to you. Gently scrub the retainers to remove the plaque and eliminate odors.
  • If you prefer to use Retainer Brite® for cleaning and softening tartar deposits, follow the instructions closely, and use it one time per day. Then, use either antibacterial soap, or baking soda paste for the second cleaning of the day. Please remember to use your special retainer brush to brush away the softened tartar after soaking your retainers in Retainer Brite®. Then, rinse them thoroughly under cool or cold water to remove any unpleasant taste.

Cleaning Don’ts

  • Don’t use toothpaste to clean your retainers. Toothpaste is too abrasive. It can cause microscopic scratches in the retainers. Then, the bacteria in your mouth will live in those scratches. And then, you can never truly clean the retainers again.
  • Don’t use mouthwash as a cleaner for your retainers (either on your retainer brush or to soak them in), as it can change the properties of the plastic, make them brittle, which may cause them to break, and then, you will need to buy new ones. It is fine to use mouthwash to gargle as you normally would, when you are not wearing your retainers.
  • Don’t use Denture Cleaner tablets (such as Efferdent or Polident) to clean your retainers.  Denture cleaners are not the same as Retainer Brite®.

Other Retainer No-No’s

  • Keep your retainers away from dogs since they like to chew on retainers.
  • Avoid wrapping your retainers in a paper towel or napkin to avoid accidentally throwing them away.
  • Keep your retainers out of your pockets.
  • Retainers are made of a thermoplastic material that is sensitive to excessive heat, so hot environments will warp your retainers. Your retainers should be kept away from heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, and car dashboards. The retainers should never be in hot cars or moving trucks, in hot boiling water, on a stove, on a TV or game station, or any place where the temperatures exceed 115° F.

When to Remove Your Retainers

  • Eating or drinking anything other than water
  • Brushing
  • Flossing
  • During physical activity, including active sports, P.E., and swimming
  • Playing a musical instrument with your mouth
  • Singing in a choir

Retainers for Life

As with most things in life, retainers do need to be replaced periodically. Because of this need, we are proud to include in your treatment a Lifetime Membership to Retainers for Life, so that you can have a longterm, economical solution to retainer replacement! That way, whenever your retainers start to wear out, you can pay a wholesale cost online for replacement retainers and have a new set shipped to you directly. Retainers for Life is a revolutionary new way of handling your replacement retainer needs!

To get started, once the teeth are in the correct positions, we take a digital scan with the iTero scanner, submit it to our retainer lab, Retainers for Life, and retainers can be fabricated for you as you need them over your lifetime.

We implemented this program in June 2023. Patients who started orthodontic treatment prior to June 2023 can speak with our team about signing up for a Lifetime Membership to Retainers for Life.

Please contact us if you have any questions!

Permanent Retainers (Bonded Fixed Wire)

On rare occasions, when patients start with a significant space between the front teeth that will be challenging to keep closed with a clear retainer alone, we will use a permanent retainer in the front and a clear overlay retainer to wear over it. This bonded fixed wire should stay on forever, and you should floss underneath it daily. The only exception is if your Primary Care Dentist (PCD) says that you are not keeping it clean, and it is beginning to cause gum or bone problems. If this exception should occur, please have us remove the permanent retainer and replace it with just a removable retainer. The removable retainer should then be worn as Dr. Held prescribes (see Retainer Instructions sections above). Once you have graduated from our office, please have any permanent retainers that you have continually monitored by your PCD at your 6 month checkups.

Retainer WingHaven Orthodontics in O'Fallon, MO

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
  • Playing musical instruments with a reed
  • Lip sucking
  • Pen or pencil biting
  • Spacing between the teeth prior to treatment
  • Severely rotated teeth

Our goal is to help your smile stay beautiful and healthy for a lifetime. Your cooperation is essential in order to achieve this goal.

Dental Examinations and Cleanings

You should continue with proper oral hygiene procedures at home, including thorough brushing and flossing techniques. Dr. Held recommends that all patients brush their teeth 3 times per day for 3 minutes and floss for 5 minutes per day (or less, if it takes you less time to floss your entire mouth). Additionally, you should see your PCD at least every 6 months for cleaning and dental examinations.