Making Sure Your Smile Lasts

Making Sure Your Smile Lasts

At Tollgate Orthodontics, one of the greatest moments that Dr. Eves and our team get to enjoy with our patients is when they get to see their new smile for the first time. Whether it's getting the braces off or finishing the final set of Invisalign, you finally get to see that your perfect smile was well worth the wait.

While the main challenge of straightening your teeth is over, the new challenge begins: making sure that smile lasts for years to come. To accomplish this, there is a stage after you get your braces off or finish your Invisalign, which is called "retention", where you wear an appliance called a retainer to keep your new smile in place. This phase lasts for about 12 months or more, and without it, you risk your smile shifting back into its original position and losing all that hard work!

Why Do I Need A Retainer?

Braces and Invisalign work by gently pushing your teeth into a new spot over time until they are all perfectly aligned. Once you finish with that stage of treatment, your smile may look perfect, but underneath your gums, out of sight, is your jawbone that has yet to adapt to this new structure. If your teeth aren't held in place with a retainer, they will actually shift back to where they were before you even started your orthodontic treatment. With a retainer, you keep your new, perfect smile while your jawbone takes the time it needs to adjust. However, your smile will only stay in place if you wear your retainer as instructed by Dr. Eves.

How The Retention Process Works

While you will be wearing your retainer for a while, it will actually get easier as time goes on. The most important stage during retention is the first two months, since your teeth are more susceptible to movement as your jawbone adjusts. During this time, you'll need to wear your retainer all 24 hours of the day, only taking it out to eat and clean the appliance. When you first get your retainer, you may have trouble speaking temporarily as you get used to wearing it.

After the initial two months, you can start to wear your retainer less often, about 12 hours per day, or as instructed by Dr. Eves. Eventually, you'll only have to wear your retainer when you go to bed.

Types of Retainers

Just like how there are different types of braces, there are different types of retainers that cater to patients' varying needs. The type of retainer that you will get once you're finished with orthodontic treatment will be determined by Dr. Eves. The types of retainers that we offer include:

Hawley Retainers
Three Hawley Retainers in a circle.
The most common type of retainer, Hawley retainers, made of acrylic with metal wiring that wraps around the teeth to hold them in place. The acrylic portion will rest on either the roof of the mouth or the inside surface of the lower teeth. The acrylic can be personalized with a variety of colors and patterns, so you can make your retainer your own.

A hand holding an Invisible Retainer.Invisible Retainers
Resembling an Invisalign aligner, this retainer is made from a lightweight, flexible, clear plastic, and is designed to slide comfortably over your teeth. They are practically invisible when worn, so no one will be able to tell you're wearing a retainer at all.


Permanent Retainers
Permanent retainers are different from your Hawley and invisible retainers because they aren't removable, hence the name. For a permanent retainer, we place a thin wire that is bonded to the back of the front teeth on either the top or bottom. These are designed to make your smile last for years to come, preventing your teeth from shifting with age. You also get the added benefit of not having to worry about losing your retainer!

Caring For Your Retainer

Retainers are not indestructible, and for the ones that aren't permanently attached, are very easy to misplace. At the same time, retainers can be expensive to replace, so taking the utmost care of your retainer will make sure it lasts for a long time. Below are a few essential steps for caring for your retainer:

  • Always Put Your Retainer In The Case - Whenever you take your retainer out, putting it its case will protect it from damage, dirt, and from getting lost. Just always make sure you have your case with you!
  • Remove Your Retainer When Eating - Getting food in your retainer can put you at greater risk for tooth decay, since damaging bacteria can quickly form in between the retainer and your teeth.
  • Clean Your Retainer Once A Day - Mix this in with your daily oral hygiene routine and give your retainer a gentle cleaning with your toothbrush. You should also soak them in a cup of water containing Efferdent or Polident.
  • Keep Your Retainer Away From Heat - Hot water, hot cars, and anything with high levels of heat can warp your retainer to the point where it no longer fits comfortably.
  • Contact Your Orthodontist If Lost Or Broken - If something happens to your retainer, schedule an appointment with us at Tollgate Orthodontics to get you a replacement right away.

Contact Your Local Orthodontic Office

If you have any questions about your retainer or any of our other treatment options, please don't hesitate to contact us to speak to a member of our orthodontic staff, who will be happy to help you get the information you need. Creating new, radiant smiles is what we do best here at Tollgate Orthodontics. We are conveniently located in Warwick, Rhode Island. If you are ready to get that beautiful smile you've always wanted, schedule an appointment with Dr. Eves today!