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Category "Orthodontic Resources"

What is the right age for my child to visit the orthodontist?

American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children be checked by age 7. Dr. Schnepper says “eight is great, nine is fine.”

Category "Orthodontic Resources"

Why Should I Wear My Orthodontic Retainer?

imagesCAT1IHV1Orthodontic Retainers



To retain means to keep in place; therefore, an orthodontic retainer is used to keep your teeth in their new positions after your braces come off.

Do I have to wear a retainer after my braces come off?

The short answer is: YES, absolutely!

The long answer is: It takes many months for your periodontal ligaments and bone to “remember” the new position of your teeth and keep them in place. The retainer helps keep them in their proper new positions. It’s important to wear the retainer exactly as your dentist/orthodontist recommends. Otherwise, your teeth may shift, especially if you stop wearing your retainer in the first two years after your braces come off.

Most people wear their retainer 24/7 for at least 6 months to a year after the braces first come off. Of course, you must take your retainer out to eat or to to brush your teeth. Be sure to carry a retainer case with you to store your retainer when it is not in your mouth. Keep a few handy — in your car, your purse, at work, etc. Many retainers have been lost in napkins at restaurants or school and thrown in the trash. A new retainer can cost as much as $300! There are also special “Retainer Maintainer” plastic bags with a “don’t throw this out” symbol to use in a pinch. These are easy to stuff in your pocket, purse, or backpack “just in case.”

After the initial period is over, your orthodontist will probably tell you that you can switch to wearing your retainer only at night. Be sure to wear it EVERY night for at least 4 to 6 additional months. After that, if everything seems stable, you can probably switch to wearing it only several nights per week (always be sure to ask your orthodontist what he or she recommends).

If you totally stop wearing your retainer, even after a few years, your teeth may begin to move and shift. This is especially true if you have tongue thrust issues or have had extractions. Unless you want crooked teeth again, or want to go back into braces, wear your retainer regularly for the rest of your life — at least a couple of nights each week! This isn’t as bad as it sounds. It just becomes part of your life — another way to ensure that your smile stays beautiful and healthy!

If your retainer breaks, call your orthodontist immediately to have another one made. If you can’t afford a new one, discuss this with your orthodontist and try to set up a payment plan or work out a financial arrangement.

How do I keep my retainer clean?

You should clean your retainer each night as directed by your orthodontist. If you are wearing your retainer around the clock, rinse it with warm water after taking it out of your mouth, and also before putting it back in later! This will help prevent bacterial buildup.

You can brush a Hawley retainer with a toothbrush and a tiny bit of toothpaste, but that is not recommended for a clear Essix retainer, as it can get scratched. Brushing also gets tiresome after a while. The most convenient way to keep your retainer clean is to use a product made for this purpose, or to use denture cleaner.

Several great specialty products are available to help keep your retainers clean and free of odor. Four such products are SonicBrite, Retainer Brite, DentaSoak, and Cleanse.Freshen.Go. They work great on all types of retainers and even clear Invisalign -type aligners. SonicBrite includes a portable sonic cleaner. Retainer Brite is a tablet which can be used with or without a sonic cleaner (sold separately). In both these products, the sonic cleaner helps the product to reach all the little crevices in your retainer, cleaning out all the bacteria and dissolving all of the white buildup.

DentaSoak works with cold water and one batch can be used for an entire week. Cleanse.Freshen.Go. makes convenient retainer cleaning wipes and and an instant cleaning spray which you can take with you “on the go.” Both DentaSoak and Cleanse.Freshen.Go. do not contain the chemical Persulfate, which causes some people to have an allergic reaction. So, if you’re looking for a retainer cleaner which is Persulfate-free, these two would be a good choice.

Please remember to wear your retainer(s) and thank you for the opportunity to work with you. We value your referrals and would love to see your family and friends as future patients. Dont hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions.

Category "Orthodontic Resources"

National Orthodontic Health Month


Treat Yourself to a Healthy Smile This Halloween

Orthodontic-friendly treats recommended by Dr. Gretchen Schnepper

Jack-o-lanterns need orthodontic braces!
Happy Halloween!

(Vancouver, WA) 10/7/2013— While over 17,000 orthodontists throughout the U.S., Canada and abroad celebrate National Orthodontic Health Month every October, children eagerly await the end of the month to celebrate Halloween.  This festive holiday, and all its accompanying candy, can be a scary time for teeth.  Because Halloween treats can play tricks on orthodontic treatment, as part of National Orthodontic Health Month, Vancouver orthodontist Dr. Gretchen Schnepper of The Modern Orthodontist wants to give patients and the entire community a few timely tips to protect braces and aligners and other orthodontic “appliances” while protecting teeth from decay.


  • Avoid sticky situations with your braces and aligners. Stay away from hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy candy and snacks. These include caramel, gummies, licorice, taffy, bubblegum (even the sugarless kind) and jelly beans.
  • Say “boo” to hard-shelled peanut candies, nuts or nut-filled candies, taco chips and popcorn (especially unpopped kernels). And whether in orthodontic treatment or not, Dr. Gretchen Schnepper says, no one should ever chew ice.
  • Spooktacular news – not all Halloween candy is off-limits.  Good alternatives include soft chocolates, peanut butter cups or other melt-in-your-mouth varieties. The American Association of Orthodontists even offers orthodontic-friendly recipes for Halloween on its website at
  • Sweets can cause cavities which means brushing and flossing are more important than ever during the Halloween season. Orthodontic patients should be especially vigilant about brushing and flossing after consuming sugary or starchy foods.


“It’s okay to enjoy some treats at Halloween without causing problems with orthodontic care,” says Dr. Gretchen Schnepper.  “We want everyone to have fun on Halloween, and we encourage patients to enjoy acceptable treats in moderation.  It’s important to remember that when orthodontic treatment is complete, and patients see their healthy and beautiful new smiles in the mirror, they will know all of their efforts were worthwhile.”

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