Retainer Instructions

retainer1Retainers are used to hold (or retain) your teeth in place after braces are removed and are an essential part of successful orthodontic treatment. Retainers are needed because teeth have fibers that help them attach to the bone. As teeth are moved by your braces, these fibers get stretched. The fibers want to pull the teeth back to their old positions when the orthodontic force is removed. Retainers help prevent this and allow time for the fibers to reorganize into their new positions. The longer retainers are worn, the less likely your teeth will relapse or move.Cooperation with wearing retainers after your braces come off is absolutely essential, otherwise your teeth will get crowded again.


  • Wear your retainers full time (except while eating, brushing, or playing sports), until Dr. Burkey instructs otherwise. Usually after 6 months of consistent full time wear, you will be able to safely wear your retainers only at night. As time goes on, the wearing schedule is reduced to every other night, then 2 nights a week, then eventually one night a week. Even after several years have passed since your braces have been removed, do not stop wearing your retainers altogether. You may only need to wear them one night a week, but if you stop completely, your teeth will move!
  • Always bring your retainers to your appointments, even if you are only wearing your retainers at night. Dr. Burkey wants to check them to make sure they fit properly.
  • Take your retainers out when eating… and always put retainers in their case! Many appliances are accidentally thrown away in school lunch rooms or restaurants when the case is not used and the retainers have been wrapped in a Kleenex, napkin, or paper towel.
  • Clean retainers thoroughly at least once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use warm (not hot) water. Brushing retainers removes the plaque, eliminates odors, and reduces the chance of buildup on the retainers. Efferdent or other orthodontic appliance cleaners should also be used once or twice a week, but they do not take the place of brushing.
  • When retainers are not in your mouth they should always be in a retainer case. Pets love to chew on retainers!


  • Initially, you may find it difficult to speak. Practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to them faster.
  • Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. If retainers are lost or broken, call us immediately to arrange for a replacement, as otherwise your teeth will shift.
  • If you have questions or concerns about your retainers, or your retainers need adjusting, call us. Do not try to adjust them yourself.
  • Retainer replacement is expensive as they are hand made, custom appliances. With proper care they will last for years!
  • Remove retainers when swimming or playing contact sports. Put them in their case!
  • Keep retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, and the washing machine.
  • Never put the retainers loose in your pocket or purse without being in their case, as they will likely be damaged. Never wrap them in a Kleenex or napkin, or they will get thrown away accidentally!

Even after several years have passed since your braces have come off, do not stop wearing your retainers altogether. You may only need to wear them one night a week at that point, but if you stop wearing them completely your teeth will move.