Removable "Retainers" And "Habit Appliances"

Upper Retainer with a Biteplate                                         Upper Habit Appliance                                                  Upper Tooth Aligner

We use removable "Retainers" to perform minor orthodontic movement and to hold teeth in their new positions while they "settle in" after orthodontic treatment. We use removable "Habit Appliances" to correct finger, swallowing, tongue and other oral habits. Both types of appliances must be worn as directed, cleaned properly and taken care of so as not to get lost or damaged. Appropriate individual instructions on use and times they are to be worn are given to each patient when appliances are first presented.


Wearing Of Appliances

It is important that "Removable Appliances" are worn as directed. However, they must be removed before undertaking any activities that might dislodge them and possibly cause choking or cause them to get swallowed (e.g., sports, swimming, etc...). When they are removed, they should be placed in an "appliance case" which has the patient's name and telephone number on it (not wrapped in a napkin or placed in a pocket). This will help prevent damage and loss. If an appliance is going to be out of a patient's mouth for a prolonged period of time, it should be kept moist to prevent drying out and distortion.


Hard, sticky and chewy foods should be avoided when wearing a removable appliance. They can bend and break wires and clasps as well as plastic parts. Sticky foods are also extemely difficult to clean off of appliances.

Speech and Chewing

A removable appliance takes time to become accustomed to. At first, it may cause an increase in saliva and speech may become "sloppy". It may also be difficult to eat with an appliance in place, if so instructed. These problems ease with time.


It is important that appliances as well as teeth are kept clean. Food may become trapped around appliances and cause swollen, bleeding and painful gums. Teeth and appliances should be cleaned with the appliances out of the mouth. Teeth should be completely cleaned with a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss - if so directed. Appliances should be cleaned by brushing with a toothbrush and toothpaste - gently, carefully and thoroughly - so as not to damage any wires or clasps. They should be rinsed with cold water - not hot water. Hot water may soften plastic and cause distortions. And they should not be soaked in mouthwash or denture cleaners for long periods of time. Alcohol in mouthwash may damage plastic and denture cleaners may weaken solder joints on appliance parts.

Comfort and Loose or Broken Appliances

Teeth may become tender when an appliance is first worn. Warm rinses may help relieve soreness and soft foods may make chewing more comfortable. If something becomes loose, broken or if sore spots develop - the appliance should be removed from the mouth and kept moist until we are contacted. We don't want anything to get swallowed. Also, we don't want our patients or anyone else to attempt to bend wires or grind away plastic to fix an appliance. If an appliance is ruined, it may be very expensive to replace.


Removable appliances must be kept away from pets. They look like food, have the patient's "scent" on them and have probably been seen in the patient's mouth. When a pet gets hold of a removable appliance, they may chew it, destroy it and possibly get injured on broken wires and sharp pieces of plastic. Put all appliances in their cases when not wearing them.