Retainers & Retention

Retention is a way to keep teeth in their desired positions and a retainer is the appliance that gets the job done. A period of time is needed to stabilize the final tooth positions so that the surrounding bone and soft tissues can conform to your new dental alignment. Your teeth will move throughout your lifetime and wearing retainers can prevent your teeth from becoming crooked again. Drs. DeLurgio and Blom will determine the type of retainer(s) and the length of retention time.

Hawley Orthodontic Braces RetainerInvisible Orthodontic Braces Retainer

What can you expect:
Wearing a retainer is easy, but getting used to it may take a few days. Swallowing and talking may seem a bit different at first. The more you wear your retainer, the sooner you’ll get used to it. Initially, you’ll be asked to wear the retainers at all times, except when eating, brushing, flossing or during active sports. As your retention continues, the retainer schedule will be modified usually to night time period. Each patient’s requirements are different and a longer period or a different schedule may be recommended if your teeth were severely rotated at first or facial growth is not complete.

What if:

  • You lose your retainer
  • Your retainer breaks or comes loose
  • Your retainer causes discomfort
  • Your retainer doesn’t fit right

Call Drs. DeLurgio and Blom right away so we can adjust, repair or replace your retainer(s). You DO NOT want to give your teeth a chance to move back. There is a cost for repair and/or replacement of retainers.

Caring for your retainer:

  • If your retainer is not in your mouth, please keep it in its case, not in your pocket.
  • Keep your retainer away from pets. It’ll turn it into a costly chew toy.
  • When eating, do not wrap your retainer in a napkin or leave it on your plate.
  • If you do not have your case, eat with your retainer and rinse / brush it clean afterward.
  • Store your retainer in a cool place. Heat can make the retainer lose its shape. Do not boil your retainer. Do not soak it in alcohol or bleach.
  • Rinse your retainer with water when you take it out. And brush it with toothpaste when you brush your teeth.
  • Soak your retainer(s) in denture cleaner daily. Please follow the manufacturer’s directions and be sure to rinse thoroughly following cleaning.
  • Please bring your retainer(s) to each orthodontic retention visit.

Keep at it:
We’ve worked hard to get your teeth straight and your bite to function properly. Now, it is important to keep them that way. When you wear your retainer(s) as Drs. DeLurgio and Blom recommend you will maintain a good functional and aesthetic result for a lifetime.

Understanding Your Retainer


Ask Dr. DeLurgio – Orthodontic Retainer Questions & Answers

Can I eat with my retainer on?

Eating with your retainer on is not recommended. Leaving your retainer in your mouth while you eat traps food, so you'll have a mess to clean up later.  However, if you do not have your retainer case, you may eat with them in and rinse them off when you are finished.  Putting them in your napkin can increase the likelyhood they end up in the trash.

Can I put my retainer in the dishwasher to clean it?

No - putting your retainer in the dishwasher will destroy your retainer. The heat of the dishwasher will cause the retainer to loose its shape and no longer fit correctly in your mouth.

Can I bleach my retainer to clean it?

No. Your retainer is not designed to be exposed to the harsh chemicals in bleach.

What causes retainers to loose their shape?

Heating your retainer will cause it to loose its shape. Exposing your retainer to boiling water (like inside a dishwasher) or open flame will cause it to loose its shape and fit incorrectly.

Can I boil my retainer to clean it?

Boiling your retainer will cause it to loose its shape and fit incorrectly in your mouth.

How should I wash and clean my retainer?

Brush your retainer with a toothbrush and toothpaste just like you brush your teeth. If needed, you can soak your retainer in a denture cleanser solution like Efferdent everyday to keep it fresh. Be sure to rinse off all the solution before you replace the retainer back into your moutn

How will a Denture Cleanser help clean my retainer?

Although brushing your retainer with a toothbrush is the first thing you should do to clean your retainer, also using a denture cleanser can help. If you brush your retainer but still have stains or other buildup on your retainer, soak it in a denture cleanser like Efferdent. According to the ADA "Using a denture cleanser helps remove stains and odor-causing particles that toothbrush bristles may not reach."