General Retainer Instructions

Types of Appliances | Design Options

IMPORTANT: These instructions apply to Molded (Essix) Retainers, Hawley Retainers, and Spring Retainers. These instructions do not apply to Swartz Expanders, Sagittal Appliances, Palatal Appliances, or Bite Plates, which are often referred to by patients as "retainers." Please review the Types of Appliances page on our web site to see pictures to help differentiate these appliances.

  • Wear your retainers full time, unless the doctor instructs otherwise.
  • Take your retainers out when eating...and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunch rooms or restaurants when they are placed in a napkin.)
  • Clean retainers thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, and eliminates odors. Efferdent or other orthodontic appliance cleaners can be used, but do not take the place of brushing.
  • When retainers are not in your mouth they should ALWAYS be in a retainer case. Pets love to chew on them!
  • Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to them faster.
  • Your retainers might make your teeth sore initially. This is normal and usually only lasts a few days.
  • Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. If retainers are lost or broken, call us immediately.
  • If you have any questions or concerns about your retainers, or your retainers need adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust them yourself.
  • Always bring your retainers to your appointments.
  • Retainer replacement is expensive...with proper care they will last for years!
  • Remove retainers when swimming.
  • Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, the washing machine, and napkins.
  • If you have bonded retainers on the inside of your teeth, extra care must be taken to keep them clean. Thorough brushing and flossing under the wires every day is necessary to keep the retainer clean and your teeth and gums healthy.

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