Why Do I Need To Wear A Retainer?

Were you excited to schedule your debond or final appointment with Dr. Melanie Orthodontics, only to discover that you’ll need to schedule more to get a retainer and monitor your smile? Are you now calling us liars in your head—“They said I was almost done!”—and wondering, “Why do I need to wear a retainer?” We can help! (First, we would like to specify we did not lie; you are done with active treatment. There’s just another equally important phase, called the retention phase, after!

What Is A Retainer?

A retainer is more than just a dental accessory; it’s a guardian of your newly aligned smile! After undergoing orthodontic treatment, whether with traditional braces or modern clear aligners, the teeth have a natural tendency to drift back to their original positions. This phenomenon, known as relapse, can undo all the hard work and time invested in achieving that picture-perfect smile. Enter the retainer: a custom-made appliance that keeps teeth in the desired positions.

The primary purpose of a retainer is to stabilize the teeth after the active phase of orthodontic treatment. The bone and tissues surrounding the teeth need time to adjust to the new positions, and retainers ensure they do so without any unwanted shifts. Think of them as the stagehands working behind the scenes to maintain the integrity of your orthodontic journey.

There are various retainers, each with a unique design and benefits. Some are removable, allowing easy cleaning and flexibility during meals or special occasions. Others are bonded discreetly to the back of the teeth, offering a more permanent solution. The choice of retainer often depends on individual needs, the specifics of the orthodontic treatment, and personal preferences.

Wearing a retainer is the final, crucial step in the orthodontic process. While the journey to straight teeth might be complete, the mission to keep them that way is ongoing. Embracing the retainer routine ensures that the dazzling results of orthodontic treatment last a lifetime.

Dr. Melanie’s Custom Retainers

Every retainer supplied by Dr. Melanie is customized for each individual patient. By creating a 3D scan with our iTero machine, Dr. Melanie can create a retainer that will comfortably fit against your teeth’s unique surfaces. When it comes to our essix retainers (transparent retainers that resemble clear aligners), our practice goes one step further with your mouth’s 3D model.

3D Printed Retainers

At Dr. Melanie Orthodontics, we understand and appreciate that innovation is the key to precision, efficiency, and patient satisfaction. Dr. Melanie has been at the forefront of integrating state-of-the-art technology into her practice. One of the most transformative tools she employs is the 3D printer, which has revolutionized how removable orthodontic appliances are crafted.

Since 2018, Dr. Melanie’s two Rancho Sante Fe and San Diego clinics have been harnessing the power of 3D printing, allowing for an in-house production of clear aligners and retainers. By creating appliances like retainers right in the clinic, Dr. Melanie can oversee every step of the process, ensuring each piece is tailored to the unique dental anatomy of the patient for optimal results. 

Why Do I Need To Wear A Retainer?

How To Care For A Retainer

The effectiveness of your retainer relies heavily on you wearing the retainer and following Dr. Melanie’s care instructions! The following are some general guidelines. For specifics, please contact our offices!

  1. Daily Cleaning: Just like your teeth, your retainer needs daily cleaning. Gently brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and lukewarm water. For a deeper clean, soak them in a denture or retainer cleaning solution once a week.
  2. Safe Storage: When your removable retainer is not in your mouth, it should be in its case. This simple habit can prevent accidental damage, loss, or the unfortunate experience of a pet seeing it as a chew toy. Store it in a consistent spot to avoid misplacing it.
  3. Avoid Heat: Some removable retainers can warp if exposed to high temperatures. Never leave them in a hot car or near a heater, and do not wash them in hot water. Warping can alter their fit, reducing their effectiveness.
  4. Regular Check-ups: Just as you would visit a dentist for teeth check-ups, periodic visits to the orthodontist are essential. At these appointments, Dr. Melanie can monitor the stability of your alignment and inspect your retainer for wear and tear to confirm it’s still fitting correctly.
  5. Handle with Care: Use both hands to prevent bending when removing or placing your removable retainer. Always remove them by grasping the ends, not the middle, and do not use your tongue to fidget with or remove them.
Why Do I Need To Wear A Retainer?

What If Something Happens To My Retainer?

If your retainer is lost or damaged, there’s no need to panic or feel guilty. Even the most careful drivers can get into a car accident, and even the most careful patients can need retainer replacements! 

Should you need a new retainer, you should contact our office immediately! As we mentioned earlier, depending on how far into the retention phase you are, it can take as little as one day to notice a difference in your alignment! Contacting us sooner rather than later helps to minimize your relapse.

Dr. Melanie Orthodontics Retainer Program

Patients who do not opt for our retainer insurance program must pay the entire cost of their new retainer(s) out of pocket. The price will vary over time.

Patients who signed up for our 5-year retainer program can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Receive up to TWO replacement sets each year.
  • Receive additional retainers at a discounted cost.
  • Receive new scans after dental work and get new custom retainers to accommodate the mouth’s new pattern at a discounted cost.

The 5-year retainer program is only available for teen and adult patients with essix retainers. Like with car accidents, we all think we won’t damage or lose our retainer until it happens to us. Our retainer insurance program makes the process smoother and cheaper; that way, obtaining a new retainer won’t add stress to your plate, no matter your stage of life or financial situation. 

Why Do I Need To Wear A Retainer?

Dr. Melanie And Her Team Are Here For Your Smile Needs!

For more information about retainers, the 5-year program, or to request replacements, please contact Dr. Melanie Orthodontics! You can reach our San Diego office at (858) 613-3688 and our Rancho Sante Fe location at (858) 255-7800!

Remember, we’re here for you every step of the way!