We work so hard to get a great smile and occlusion for our patients. The patients and parents invest a ton of money and time in getting the smile of their dreams. We are all so happy the day the braces come off and everything looks great. Happy patients tell their friends, family and neighbors and our practices grow! Everyone wins. This is why it is vital to do everything we can to get patients to wear their retainers.

I’ve found it most effective to get patients to want to do the things that are good for them. This tactic works much better than me telling patients why wearing a retainer is good for me or even good for them. I have a little script that I use when delivering retainers and at retainer checks that I thought I would share with all of you.

Here it goes:

The retainers are placed in the patient’s mouth and, assuming they fit well, the fun begins.

Me: Wow, those retainers fit so well it’s almost like they were made for you!

Patient: (smiling but confused because they thought they were made for them) umm…

Me: How do the retainers feel? Are they tight?

Patient: Yes, very!

Me: Awesome! They are supposed to be. Are they poking or sticking you anywhere? Are there any rough spots? If there are we can fix them right up.

Patient: No they are good.

Me: Super. Do you want to get braces back on?

Patient: NO WAY! Never.

Me: Awesome. Do you know how to avoid that?

Patient (after some hesitation): Wear my retainers?

Me: Exactly! Brilliant! Wear your retainers to avoid another round of braces. It works best if you wear them all the time except when you brush and when you eat/drink for the first four weeks and then nights only after that. If your retainers feel like they are getting tighter to you then that means you aren’t wearing them enough and you are in danger of them not fitting so wear them more if that happens! Otherwise, you know what will happen.

Patient: I’ll have to get braces back on?

Me: Exactly! I think you look good in braces and you having braces on is great marketing for me so feel free to stop wearing your retainer any time. I’ll be more than happy to put your braces back on!

Patient: No way!


Notice that I never told the patient that they had to wear the retainer. I simply asked questions and let the patient tell me what she wanted and what she believed was best for her. It’s extremely effective. Try it yourself and let me know how it goes.

4 thoughts on “Do You Want Braces Back On?? – Retainer Scripting

  1. Do you have a standard retention protocol in place for follow-up? (ie. 1 mo, 3mo, 1 year, etc..) Also, does your retention strategy vary depending on the patient or do you use the same type of retainer for all cases (i.e. U/L essix for everyone, bonded L 3-3 for everyone, etc…)

    Thank you!

  2. Also, let’s say they lose their upper essix.. do you charge them for a new one or is it a free remake within a certain time frame?

  3. We usually see patients at 10 weeks after delivery and then 6 months after that. They call if they need us after that. We don’t charge for additional retainer appointments. We offer everyone a bonded lower retainer but few take us up on it given the concerned about difficulty in keeping them clean. We do Essix retainers on most patients but I’ll do a wrap-around Hawley now and then. Hope this helps. Thanks for the question. Check out Young-Docs Study Group and Pragmatic Orthodontic Clinical Discussions on Facebook for more discussions about this kind of thing among orthodontists and orthodontic residents. Also check out TheProOrtho.com and sign up for your free subscription to The Progressive Orthodontic Magazine.

  4. If you lose your sunglasses or tennis shoes you gotta pay for new ones.
    Same goes for retainers!

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