Retainer Instructions

Retainer Instructions

Retainers are used to hold teeth in place following orthodontic treatment. Teeth can continue to move all your life and retainers can prevent relapse and teeth from becoming crooked again.

Traditional retainers are acrylic with a thin wire around the front of the teeth. Clear retainers are popular and frequently used now; however, they can wear out if you grind your teeth and they are definitely easier to lose. 


  1. Always wear the retainer as instructed.  Should you have any questions or need clarification, do not hesitate to call.
  2. Clean your retainer immediately after each meal, before bed and first thing in the morning. If you are unable to brush the retainer, make sure to thoroughly rinse it with cool water after each meal.
  3. Avoid flipping or playing with the retainer with your tongue. This will eventually distort or break the retainer
  4. If your retainer is lost, broken or doesn’t fit properly, please return to see us as soon as possible. Bring your retainer (or any pieces) with you if you have it

When removing the retainer from your mouth:

  • DON’T wrap it in a paper napkin or tissue.  It may accidentally get thrown out.
  • DON’T put it in your pocket (unless it is in its case). It may break it or it may end up in the laundry where the heat will distort it
  • DON’T leave it out in the open. It needs to be placed into the case provided to you. Pets are fascinated by the smell and will likely chew on your retainer.
  • DON’T wash your retainer in hot water. The heat will warp it and it will no longer fit properly. Wash it with soap and cool water
  • DON’T leave your retainer in any cleansers such as Polident for longer than 10 minutes at a time. It will corrode the metal joints
  • DO put the retainer in a plastic case with a lid if it is not in your mouth.  Keep it out of the heat so it won’t distort.
  • DO label the retainer case with your name, address and phone. If it happens to get lost, hopefully someone will be able to find and return it
  • DO look after your retainer; a replacement costs may cost $250.00.

Things you may notice

  • A plastic taste is sometimes noticeable with a new retainer, but the taste disappears in a day
  • With the retainer in place, your speech initially might be affected.  Reading aloud to yourself can help you become more quickly accustomed to it
  • If your retainer is designed to move a tooth or teeth, those teeth may be tender for a few days when you chew

Long Term

Once you only need to wear your retainers at night, try to be very consistent. Instructions have been provided to avoid relapse and not following those directions may result in teeth becoming crooked again. If you notice that the retainer does not fit the same or seems tight – wear it all the time and then come back and have it checked as soon as you can.

Check your retainer for wear. If it showing signs of wear, you should check back with us.

For people who grind their teeth at night, often a night guard is an option and that may be worn in place of a retainer.

After you have completed treatment with us at Innova Orthodontics, we will provide long term instructions regarding retainer wear tailored to you. We never suggest that you should discontinue retainer wear completely.

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