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Orthodontic Retainers

Invisible Retainer

The retainer (sometimes called an invisible retainer) is made of clear durable plastic which snaps into place over your teeth. It is used to retain the alignment of the teeth.  Once placed, your teeth show through the plastic making the retainers appear nearly “invisible”.

The retainer is initially worn full time and then eventually only when sleeping. We will give you instructions specific to your needs when you receive the retainer including when it should be worn and how to care for and clean it.

How Long Will I Wear an Invisible Retainer?

  • Days 1 – 3:  wear 24 hours per day (take out to eat and brush teeth)
  • 3 days – 4 months:  15 hours per day – after school and night
  • 4 months – dismissal (1  year):  every other night for one year
  • 2nd year of dismissal;  2 -3 nights per week.
  • Eventually:  one night per week FOREVER

Retainer Cleaning

We recommend that you clean your retainers with a toothbrush and cool water each time your  brush your teeth.  Avoid using toothpaste and a toothbrush as it will break down the retainer material.  You can soak the retainers in a 50/50 mix of denture or retainer cleaner and Listerine two times per week.  Do not soak more than 15 minutes.  Remove from the solution and rinse in water immediately.

Hawley Retainer

The Hawley Retainer is one of the most common retainers used after removal of braces. Retainers are necessary to hold the teeth into their new position, allowing for settling of the supporting tissues. Hawley retainers are made of acrylic and wire and are fabricated specifically for each patient by taking an impression.

When you first get the retainers, you will be instructed to wear them full time except when you eat and brush. As your teeth stabilize in the bone, you will be instructed to reduce the number of hours you wear your retainers. We instruct and encourage all of our patients to continue to wear their retainers indefinitely. Even wearing your retainers up to two nights a week for the rest of your life will reinforce the stabilization of your straight teeth.

How Long Will I Wear a Hawley Retainer?

  • First 4 months:  24 hours per day (take out to eat and brush teeth)
  • 4 – 10 months:  16 hours per day
  • 10 months on:  Evening only

Hawley Retainer Cleaning

We recommend brushing your retainers under cool water with a toothbrush and toothpaste whenever you brush your teeth.  For disinfecting, soak the retainer two times per week for no more than 15 minutes in denture or retainer cleaner and Listerine.


To avoid losing your retainers please follow these rules:

  • Don’t leave your retainer on a cafeteria tray or wrap it in a napkin, you may accidentally discard it.  Use your retainer case for storage.
  • Don’t leave the retainer where pets can get them as they enjoy chewing them
  • Don’t put your retainer in your pocket, this may cause the wires to become bent or broken.
  • Don’t place the retainer in hot water or near heaters.
  • Don’t chew on your retainer, this may flatten it and it will no longer fit.

Bethel Park Office

Dr. Gary Cartwright, DMD
4880 Library Road
Bethel Park, PA 15102
(412) 833-6188

McMurray Office

Dr. Gary Cartwright, DMD
2000 Waterdam Plaza Drive, Suite 160
McMurray, PA 15317
(724) 942-5130

Complimentary Exam

Dr. Cartwright offers a complimentary consultation for children under 18 that consists of a panoramic x-ray, photographs, a thorough orthodontic examination and a discussion of potential treatment options.

4880 Library Road, Bethel Park, PA 15102 USA
Gary Cartwright, DMD Bethel Park, PA Orthodontist. (412) 833-6188
2000 Waterdam Plaza Drive, Suite 160, McMurray, PA 15317 USA
Gary Cartwright, DMD McMurray, PA Orthodontist (724) 942-5130