finally time for your braces to come off. Your teeth are
straight and beautiful at last, but you're not finished yet!
Impressions will be taken for study models and working casts
for your new retainers.
Retainers are designed to
hold your teeth in place while they settle into their final
position. Depending on your case the doctor will make
recommendations on how long you need to wear your retainers
each day and for how many months, years, and sometimes for
Your doctor will fill out a
prescription slip with instructions for the type of retainer
and the specific design he/she wants the lab technician to
follow when making your appliances. Some doctors have a
technician in their office but in most cases your appliances
will be sent out to an orthodontic laboratory to be
Our lab is Harris Orthodontic
Laboratory in California, and I have been bending wires and
fabricating retainers for over 30 years. I've learned from
many top notch orthodontists and dentists how to make
retainers that fit properly and with the new colored acrylics
we put designs in them that look really cool.
Because lab technicians don't
have a dental degree, we are not allowed to work directly on
patients. For that reason we only work from a doctor's
prescription slip. We also don't have the diagnostic
information about you that the doctor has compiled and it
would be a disservice to you for us to design or make
appliances without this knowledge. Like the doctors, lab
technicians are always learning and our ability to communicate
new techniques and lab procedures to the doctors in their
vernacular is one of our most important responsibilities. The
doctor is responsible to you and we are responsible to the
Before you receive your
retainer be sure to visit my
retainer website. You'll get tips on things to look for
before you get your retainers. It also discusses how to take
care of your appliances and keep track of them once you
receive them. Ever wonder how Hawley retainers are made?
Here's a slide
show which shows the entire process!
I make at least five replacement retainers a
week. They seem to disappear quite easily if you don't make
good habits. For example, put an attractive ceramic container
with a lid on your dinner table so you'll always have a nice
place to hide your retainer while you eat. Your friends and
family will appreciate your consideration. I compiled a book of lost
retainer stories illustrated with cartoons that patients have
emailed me over the years! Here is a
link to my book of retainer stories. It makes a great gift
for a friend (or as a final thank you gift for your
orthodontist), or a fun waiting-room book for any dental
The most common story is
"I wrapped it in a napkin and spent an hour dumpster
diving to find it". Your pets also rank right at the top.
They love the smell and like to chew them up.
I think my
favorite unusual story is Ashley's story. Ashley was making a
S'mores, cooking her marshmallow on a stick over the campfire,
when a friend called out her name. As she turned to see who it
was, her stick with the marshmallow passed over the picnic
table and picked up her retainer like a crane. You see, she
set her retainer on the picnic table during dinner (mistake).
Ashley turned back around to finish cooking the marshmallow
and didn't notice that her retainer was stuck to it. You
guessed it, the retainer melted and I don't think she used
that marshmallow in her S'more!
You're definitely not alone
if you've lost your retainer. And yes, there is a retainer
heaven. Visit us at http://www.myretainer.com.
If you have retainer questions, email
them to me! Remember to "make good habits" and
you'll save time and money on costly repairs and remakes!