An upper jaw retainer is made of thin plastic and comes in different shapes depending on the purpose of the retainer. Usually, a retainer is worn for 6 – 9 months. There are usually metal wires attached to a retainer to ensure that you can “snap” the retainer into your upper teeth; this prevents the retainer from coming loose when you eat or laugh.

In the first few days, you will have to get used to the fact that the molars do not “close” anymore because of the retainer. Eating, especially chewing firm meat, is difficult with the retainer in the first week. It is also possible that with a retainer you may (in the beginning) lisp and/or produce more saliva.

The most commonly used type is a bite retainer, which reduces the vertical overlap between the upper and lower teeth (deep bite) and protects the brackets in the lower jaw from being bitten off. When biting, the lower teeth come into contact with the retainer and contact between the molars is temporarily prevented, allowing the molars to grow to resolve the deep bite. A permanent version is chosen for children in specific situations, but much more frequently for adults. With the fixed version, the risk of permanent lisping is relatively small.

Regardless of the type of retainer, it is important to wear it 24 hours a day. You may only leave the retainer off when swimming, brushing your teeth and/or practising a sport in which a mouth guard is worn. Store the retainer in the appropriate box and ensure that it is clean and dry to prevent odours in your retainer.

Take good care of your retainer. Brush it at least three times a week with toothpaste or (green) soap and a separate brush. If deposits form on the bracket, you can clean it at most once a month with an effervescent denture cleaner. If necessary, cleaning vinegar can be used more often than once a month; rinse the retainer well after cleaning.