Retainer Instructions

CONGRATULATIONS, this means that your teeth are finally out of jail. This is the first and last time you will see your teeth straight if you do not follow the “RULES” of keeping teeth from moving!

The retainers that you’ll be receiving are designed to “retain” (or hold) your teeth in their finished position. Unless instructed otherwise by the Orthodontist, you must wear the retainers:


  • 24/7 the FIRST YEAR, only removing them for eating and brushing.
  • SECOND YEAR, Nighttime only (for sleeping) or about 8-10 hours per day.
  • THIRD YEAR until 21 years of age or until the “wisdom” teeth are removed, wear retainers every night.
  • After age 21, wear retainers for life, two to five nights per week.


  • 24/7 the FIRST YEAR, only removing it for eating and brushing.
  • SECOND YEAR, Nighttime only (for sleeping) or about 8-10 hours per day.
  • THIRD YEAR ONWARDS, wear retainers for life, two – five nights per week.

Unfortunately the research has shown that even with good retainer wear, sometimes teeth shifts 4-5% back to their original position, so, it’s very important to wear retainers as indicated above. OUR OFFICE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE AFTER THIS POINT IF YOUR TEETH SHIFTS AS WE ARE NOT THERE 100% OF THE TIME TO WATCH AND IMPLEMENT THAT YOU ARE WEARING THE RETAINERS. Teeth also shift with age…..”it all shifts with age”. As you get older your face looks different. Even for people who never had braces, it is very true that the lower front teeth shift, therefore,  we say, “wrinkling skin, wrinkling teeth.” The reality is that most people are not willing to wear retainers for the rest of their life. In addition of aging of the face, it’s possible that wisdom teeth may contribute to crooked teeth. The best time to consider having wisdom teeth removed is between 16 and 18 years of age.

It’s very important to CAREFULLY CLEAN YOUR TEETH with brush, floss and to rinse well just before the retainers are placed in your mouth. The retainer itself should be cleaned with cool water and a toothbrush. The acrylic (plastic) of the retainer is very heat sensitive. When not in your mouth, be certain that your retainer is kept in its protective case. Never wrap retainers in a napkin or paper towel. Beware of pets, like dogs as they love chewing retainers. ALWAYS BRING YOUR RETAINERS WITH YOU WHEN VISITING OUR OFFICE. 

Please make sure to call our office immediately if the retainers are lost, cracked or broken. There are no additional fees for office visit for 6 months past the time your braces are removed and your retainers are placed. NEW RETAINERS ARE EXPENSIVE, SO PLEASE TAKE GOOD CARE OF THEM.

If you have a bonded fixed retainer wire on the inside of your lower front teeth, please be aware that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for the care of the wire. If your lower front teeth move/shift we are not responsible after the 12 months after braces are removed as many factors are involved as the patient has to be very careful in taking good care of the fixed retainer. Proper care from your side should include the following:

  • Careful, through brushing and flossing. This must be done daily. When flossing, be careful to not push too hard on the bonded wire, as this can bend the wire or dislodge it and will cause your teeth to shift. Failure to clean your teeth carefully will result in dental disease.
  • If you’re not certain how to clean around the wire, just ask and we will be happy to show you the correct methods.
  • Do not pick at the wire.
  • Do not bend the wire. Unusually hard, sticky or brittle foods can bend the wire and shift your teeth.
  • Ask your Dentist to be very careful while cleaning your teeth as they can break, bend or dislodge the wire or composite that holds the fixed retainer wire.
  • If your Dentist complains that your oral hygiene is poor around the wire, we can remove it after two years after braces, but, there is an additional fee for fabricating a new removable retainer.


American Association of Orthodontists American Dental Association California Dental Association San Diego County Dental Society Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists