A completed smile is a cause for celebration, but it is not the end of your orthodontic treatment. Retainers are essential to maintaining your beautiful result. Whether Invisalign, Invisalign Teen, or braces were used to create your smile, retainers are still the key to a lifelong result.

The Formation

Removable retainers come in a variety of styles. At Lux, all retainers originate from a 3D digital iTero scan, which is then sent to an orthodontic laboratory or to Invisalign. The 3D scan helps to ensure an accurate fabrication of the retainer. With traditional impression material, there can be distortion in the impression which can lead to distortion in the retainer.

Traditional retainers, called Hawley retainers, are made from plastic-like material and a steel wire along the front teeth. At Lux, patients design their own retainer using a color guide that has options for colors, patterns and sparkles.

Plastic retainers are clear, comfortable and more sleek. They are shaped to the teeth and cover them completely, which is helpful for patients who grind their teeth at night. They can also be used as a bleaching tray.

Permanent or bonded retainers are cemented to the inside of the front teeth. Often, patients will still request a removable plastic retainer to overlay the bonded retainer in the event that the bonded retainer breaks. Flossing is more challenging with this type of retainer but floss aids and regular cleanings with the dentist can help maintain the health of the teeth and gums.

The Fresh Factor

Retainers should be cleaned daily, just like your teeth. Plaque can adhere to orthodontic appliances just as they can adhere to teeth. One of the most important steps to take is to keep retainers immersed in water when not in use. Whether it is in a designated cup or retainer case or something as fancy as an ultrasonic cleaner, keeping retainers wet is crucial to prevent proteins from the saliva from depositing on the retainer. If that happens, the retainer can become discolored and begin to smell or taste unpleasant. At Lux, we advise patients to brush their teeth and to brush their retainer. Using tooth whitening gel in a plastic retainer also helps to maintain a clear and clean appearance.

The Function

Retainers are custom-made removable appliances that retain teeth in position after orthodontic treatment is complete. Sometimes, retainers are also used to actively close small spaces or move one or two teeth back into their original position. There are a variety of retainers available. At Lux, we offer options suitable to each individual patient and their needs.

The Formula

Retainers should be worn indefinitely, even if wisdom teeth are not present. At Lux, we educate patients on the science behind that recommendation. Every patient has a different start point and, therefore, has a different relapse tendency. (Relapse is the process by which teeth regress back to their pre-orthodontic position). In general, patients are advised to wear retainers every night. In some cases, retainer wear is needed for both day and night time wear, especially if severe crowding, severe spacing or a special circumstance was present initially. The orthodontist is the best source for that recommendation.

The Final Word

Retainers are the key to maintaining your beautiful result, even decades after treatment was completed. Consistent wear and a good cleaning routine will best preserve retainers. Periodic visits to the orthodontist is also a great idea so that the fit of the retainer can be confirmed or adjusted or, in some cases, a new retainer recommended. At Lux, retainers are the light at the end of the tunnel and a very big cause for celebration!