Retainers 101: What You Need to Know

Most commonly recommended after braces, retainers help to keep teeth from shifting after treatment. Because everyone’s teeth are different, your orthodontist will go over which retainer will work best for you and how often it should be worn.

Recommendations on Wearing Retainers

Your teeth have the highest tendency to move within the first few months after getting your braces off. After the first few months, your teeth and bones will get more stable and the chance of your teeth shifting decreases. However, your teeth can shift at any time so we recommend still wearing your retainer occasionally, at night or a few nights a week, after this period has passed. When not being worn, retainers should be kept in their proper retainer case and in a safe place.

Types of Retainers

Your orthodontist will prescribe one of the three types of retainers available for you to wear after treatment: Bonded, Hawley and Clear Plastic Retainer.

Bonded Retainer: A Bonded Retainer is attached to your teeth once your braces come off. This is usually prescribed if your doctor wants you to wear a retainer at all times.

Hawley Retainer: A Hawley Retainer is made out of wire and removable. The patient can take the retainer out for cleaning and eating meals.

Clear Plastic Retainer: Clear Plastic Retainers are also removable, and they’re molded to the fit the new position of your teeth perfectly.

Cleaning Your Retainer

Keeping your retainer clean not only protects your teeth, but it can increase the lifespan of your removeable retainer. To keep a bonded retainer clean, you’ll have to use a floss threader and floss your retainer as well as the front of your teeth.

To clean a removeable retainer, you’ll need to clean it with a soft bristle tooth brush and liquid soap. Avoid using toothpaste as it is slightly abrasive, which is why we recommend liquid soap. Additionally, Efferdent, a denture cleaning agent, can be used to aid in the removal of tartar.

Other FAQs

We’ve pulled together some other common questions we get about retainers below.

Can a retainer be used to straighten my teeth?: No – a retainer is used to hold the correction that has been made so that the benefit of your orthodontic treatment remains long after you are done with braces or Invisalign.

What if I forget to wear my retainer?: If a day or even a few days go by, gently re-insert the retainer; it may initially feel tight in certain spots. This is normal and indicates that the retainer is working—helping to realign and hold your teeth where they should be. If for some reason you forget to wear your retainer for a longer time, revisional treatment may be necessary to restore your teeth to their original positions.

If you have any questions regarding your retainer or what to expect after your braces are removed, contact our office today. If you’d like your retainer evaluated at any point, we are available to give you a recommendation too!