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How long should I wear my retainer after braces?

September 10th, 2021

Dr. Wes Chladny of Spring Hill’s Dr. Wes Orthodontics answers questions about braces, retainers and orthodontic care.

Q: “How long should I wear my retainer after braces? Are there different types of retainers?”

Dr. Wes Says:

Yes, there are different types of retainers that are used to hold the alignment of teeth after they have been straightened with orthodontic treatment.  Retainers are either removable or fixed (sometimes called permanent retainers).  Both can do a great job at keeping the teeth in place and there are a number of factors that may influence the choice of which one is appropriate for a patient.  Generally, removable retainers are easy to clean and maintain, but they require good cooperation wearing them to be effective.  Removable retainers usually require replacement from time-to-time due to loss, breakage or wear and tear.  They rarely last forever.  Fixed retainers, on the other hand, can be more difficult to keep clean and often require additional products and/or techniques to maintain good oral hygiene because they are bonded to the teeth and immovable, but this eliminates the need for cooperation wearing the retainers because they are always in place.

One of the most common removable retainers is made of clear plastic that has been formed to fit and cover all surfaces of the teeth, which makes it very effective at holding the teeth in place when worn properly.  Another common removable retainer is a Hawley retainer.  This type of retainer typically has acrylic on the palate, or roof of the mouth, for upper retainers and on the tongue side of the teeth for lower retainers.  These retainers typically incorporate wires to help hold the alignment of the teeth.  Hawley retainers can be very effective when worn properly, but because they have fewer points of contact with the teeth than clear retainers there are more opportunities for the teeth to move slightly.

I use both clear plastic and Hawley removable retainers for my patients depending on the situation, but I prefer clear plastic retainers when I am completely finished with treatment and want to minimize the potential for unwanted movements.

Fixed (permanent) retainers are wires that are shaped to the back surface of multiple teeth and bonded into place with adhesive.  They are usually meant to stay in place indefinitely but can be removed at any time.  As long as they do not become loose or damaged they do a great job of preventing the teeth they are attached to from moving.  Fixed retainers are most commonly used to hold the alignment of the front teeth.  The most common application for fixed retainers in my practice is on the backside of the bottom front six teeth.

The decision about how often and how long you need to wear your retainer(s) after treatment will be made by your orthodontist and may vary on a case-by-case basis.  Retainers are essentially your insurance policy for your orthodontic correction.  If you want to maintain the result of your treatment – you must wear your retainers.  Otherwise, your teeth are likely to return to some degree toward their original, pre-treatment positions.  I recommend that my patients wear their retainers for life.  However, the frequency with which they must wear their retainers to hold the alignment of their teeth may decrease over time.  Generally, I ask my patients to keep their fixed retainers in place as long as they are keeping them clean and there is no other reason to remove them.  My patients wear removable retainers full-time for the first two months after treatment, taking them out to eat, drink and brush.  After two months they transition to wearing them every night while sleeping.  As time passes some patients wish to wear removable retainers less than every night and some are able to do so.  However, I always suggest that my patients transition away from nightly wear gradually and use the retainer as a guide.  If it fits completely and comfortably – they are wearing it often enough.  If not, they need to increase the frequency of wear.  I NEVER suggest that my patients stop wearing their retainers all together.  Good topic.  Hopefully this was helpful.

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How Should I Choose an Orthodontist? | Dr. Wes Answers

July 22nd, 2021

What are the most important factors in choosing an orthodontist? Should you focus on customized treatments, experience, insurance... or something else? Dr. Wes Chladny of Spring Hill’s Dr. Wes Orthodontics shares his answers. Here’s what he has to say.

How to Choose an Orthodontist

Q: “There are few orthodontists to choose from where I live. How do I decide which one to go to?”

Dr. Wes says:

That’s a great question, and I bet a lot of people are glad you asked it. First, I do not believe that orthodontic treatment is a commodity, so the practice you select does matter and can affect the service and outcome you get. When it comes to choosing an orthodontist, here are a few important things to consider...

Does the orthodontist deliver customized treatment for every patient? 

The answer to this should always be, “yes,” but you might have to dig a little deeper to find out what that really means. For instance, digital technologies have emerged that allow orthodontists to simulate the finished result. In my practice I use these digital simulations to create clear plastic aligners (Invisalign®) or design robotically bent wires for my braces patients. The results are truly individualized.

Regardless of the method used to customize treatments, the orthodontist should be able to specifically explain the process used to personalize treatment and how much involvement he/she has in caring for each patient. I would argue that an orthodontist’s time is the key component in customizing treatment for patients. I am confident that the more time an orthodontist spends caring for each patient, the more customized it is. This can create a challenge for larger practices that have more patients because the orthodontist often has less time available to care for each patient and must delegate responsibilities to assistants and support staff.

I’ve practiced in a large, busy office where I treated a lot of patients every day, and I currently have a smaller practice dedicated to treating fewer patients and spending more time with each. From my experience I can tell you that treating fewer patients every day gives me the time to know more about my patients and tailor the treatment to each individual’s needs. The better you understand the involvement the orthodontist will have in the treatment, the more confident you can be that you’ve found the right practice for you.

Does the orthodontist have experience treating your (or your child’s) specific problem?

I wouldn’t recommend selecting an orthodontist on experience alone, but it should be a consideration. The more times an orthodontist has treated a problem, the more predictable and efficient the treatment should become. Typically people don’t want to be Guinea pigs when it comes to their healthcare, so it is perfectly reasonable to know the level of experience your orthodontist has in correcting your problem and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask. At minimum you will get a sense of how confident the orthodontist seems in developing and implementing the treatment plan designed for you. The discussion of the problem and the treatment should be clear and make sense to you. Trust your instincts; if you aren’t satisfied with the explanation you’re given or the time dedicated to your questions or concerns – get another opinion.

Does the orthodontist accept your orthodontic insurance?

This can be a tricky one. I would never recommend that you make a treatment decision entirely based on your insurance benefit, but I recognize that the financial component to treatment can be a major factor. You should be able to find out the details of your insurance benefit by calling your carrier. You’ll want to know how much they’ll pay (lifetime maximum), when they’ll issue payments, if there is a deductible, and if there are any restrictions, just to name a few. Many orthodontic practices will assist you in getting the answers you need if you provide them with the necessary information about your plan.

Here’s where it can get complicated. Some insurance plans have negotiated fees and/or pay a different benefit for in-network providers. If this applies to your plan you may want to find out if any providers in your area participate in the network. You might find that your choices are limited depending on where you live. However, many orthodontic insurance plans provide the same or a similar benefit for services at out-of-network providers as well. Often, people have more freedom of choice than they might initially think, so it is important to learn the details of your plan. I would encourage you to schedule a complimentary consultation with the orthodontist(s) of your choice regardless of your insurance plan. You will get valuable information that will help you make an informed decision regarding which orthodontic practice is the best fit for you.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Dr. Wes is currently offering a special promotion for new patients. Call (615) 282-5038 for more information. As always, initial consultations are free. For more info visit

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