Patient Forms

Retainers--Post-Orthodontic Care

At Orange County Pediatric Dental Group, Dr. Renzi and Dr. House believe that retainers to help keep smiles beautiful after orthodontic treatment.


When braces are removed, the “retention” phase begins for most individuals.  The objective of this phase is to ensure the teeth do not move back to their previous position.  A retainer will be used to hold the improved position of the teeth.  A retainer is a fixed or removable dental appliance which has been custom-made to Dr. Renzi and Dr. House's specific directions.  Retainers are usually made from colored plastic and thin wires.  Patients find retainers to be comfortable and that they can speak normally when they wear their retainers as prescribed.

What types of retainers are available?

There are a variety of retainers available, each one geared towards treating a different kind of dental problem.  Dr. Renzi or Dr. House will make a retainer recommendation depending on your child's/teen's unique needs.

The following are some of the most common types of retainers:

  • Hawley retainer – The most common retainer used. The Hawley retainer consists of a thin  metal wire on a plastic arch.  Additional wires are added for retention.  Patients can choose colors, patterns, and decals to customize these retainers.
  • Essix – The Essix retainer is the most commonly used vacuum formed retainer (VFR).  Patients often call these "clear retainers".  They are more cosmetic than Hawley retainers, but they can scratch, discolor, and break easier than Hawley retainers.
  • Fixed (bonded) retainers – A fixed retainer is bonded to the back of selected teeth.  The advantage is that patients don't have to remember to wear the appliance.  The disadvantage is that patients have to be more careful with diet and hygiene with these appliances.  Also, if the bonding between the tooth and appliance comes loose, the teeth will move.

Important Retainer Information:

There are a few basic things to consider for proper use and maintenance of your retainer.

Don’t lose your retainer/Keep it safe – Removable retainers are very easy to lose.  Keep your retainer in its case when it isn't in your mouth.  Leaving a retainer folded in a napkin is a typical way that they get thrown into the trash.  Putting retainers into pockets (without the case) is another typical way that retainers get broken.  A brightly colored case serves as a great reminder.  Keep your retainer out of hot cars or backpacks that stay in the sun as the plastic will us on this one!

Avoid eating and drinking with retainers – Food or drinks can damage your retainers.  Also, food and drink can get trapped under your retainers, leading to cavities.  Food and drinks trapped under your retainers will start to smell bad and they will make your retainers start to look and smell bad, too.

Clean your retainer properly – Removable retainers can become breeding grounds for calculus (tartar) and bacteria.  It is essential to clean the inside and outside thoroughly as often as possible.  Hawley retainers can be cleaned with a toothbrush.  Because harsh bristles can damage the plastic surface of a Essix retainer, denture cleaner or a specialized retainer cleaner is recommended for this type of device.

Wear your retainer as directed – This phase of treatment is critical.  We can't emphasize it enough!  Dr. Renzi and Dr. House call retainers your "insurance policy."  Especially in the beginning, teeth want to move back into their old position.  Retainers are needed to give the muscles, tissues, and bones time to stabilize the teeth in their new alignment.  Teeth will become more stable in the new position over time, but retainers will help keep your smile in its beautiful corrected position.  When we have parents coming in with braces, they will tell us that they had treatment when they were younger and they stopped wearing their retainers. 

What if my retainer isn't fitting or I lose my retainer? -  Call us for an appointment!  The sooner we see our patients to address any problems, the sooner we can get them back on the road to a beautiful smile!

If you have any questions or concerns about retainers, please contact our office.