Orthodontic Retainers


Lindsay Olsen, RDH

Orthodontic Retainers

            You’ve been waiting for this day for over eighteen months; your braces are coming off today! Interestingly enough, one of the most important stages of your orthodontic treatment begins, the retainer phase.  Retainers are the only insurance policy orthodontia patients have to keep their smile straight, and bite perfect.

There are two types of orthodontic retainers:

  • Permanent (Fixed Bonded)
  • Removable

Permanent retainers cannot be removed. A thin wire is bonded on the tongue side of your lower front teeth (sometimes the upper teeth). This style retainer is great for individuals who will not remember to wear their removable retainers each night. Permanent retainers are not recommended for patients who have poor brushing and flossing habits at home. Permanent retainers require meticulous flossing (With a floss threader), and twice daily brushing in order to prevent plaque/tartar buildup from accumulating around the retainer.

Call your dentist, or orthodontist ASAP if you feel or notice your permanent retainer is broken, or distorted in any way.

There are two types of removable retainers: a Hawley style retainer, or an Essix style (Invisible) retainer. Removable retainers are popular among orthodontic patients because they can be removed, and cleaned by hand. These style retainers also do not get in the way during flossing, and brushing.

How to Care for Your Removable Retainer?

  • If you have an removable style retainer DO NOT soak it in boiling, or even extremely hot water, as it can easily melt, or become distorted. Also living in Arizona, store your retainer indoors. If it is left in your car during the summer months, it can melt, or become distorted.
  • If you are not wearing your retainer, keep it in its case, on a high shelf, away from pets. Dogs are attracted to smell/taste of human saliva. Your dog will chew, and destroy your retainer if they can get their paws on it.
  • DO NOT soak your retainer in mouthwash, as it will stain your retainer. Simply rinse with water, after each use, and gently brush with your soft toothbrush (NO TOOTHPASTE). Once a week, I disinfect my removable retainers. Simply place your retainers in warm water, with a denture or orthodontic cleaning tablet for 15-20 minutes, and then rinse under water. I personally use Retainer Brite tablets (Purchased from Amazon.com).


How Often, or How Long Do I Need to Wear My Removable Retainers?

It is recommended to wear your removable retainers, every night, for the rest of your life to retain your straight teeth.

You are welcome to bring in your removable style retainers with you to each preventative cleaning appointment. They can be cleaned in the ultrasonic, and then the Dr. can examine the fit. If you have any additional questions about your retainers, please contact your dental office!

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