Teeth Retainers After Braces – Usage, Benefits, and Care Tips

woman wearing retainers

What are Teeth Retainers after Braces?

Retainers are the devices that keep your teeth in place. They are custom designed according to your teeth and jaw. Retainers are often prescribed after braces and other orthodontic treatments such as Invisalign. They help keep the teeth in the changed position, achieved through orthodontic treatment.

If you are on braces or wearing retainers for teeth straightening, you may have a lot of questions in mind regarding retainers. This post answers most of them. Check it out.

Why Do You need to Wear Retainers After Braces?

After undergoing an extended orthodontic treatment, you wouldn’t want your teeth to return to their original position. But this situation can occur if you don’t wear retainers after braces. They keep your teeth intact in their correct place after the braces or Invisalign treatment to prevent relapse.

What are the Benefits of Wearing Retainers After Braces?

Apart from keeping the teeth intact in their corrected position and preventing the treatment reversal, the following are some other vital benefits of wearing retainers:

  • Helps in Bite Stabilization

    The soft tissues and jaw bones around your teeth get affected by your orthodontic treatment. Once you remove your braces or Invisalign, the bones and tissues are on the task of adapting to the new tooth position. This is vital to stabilize your bite.

    Retainers accelerate this alignment of the surrounding jawbones and tissues by not allowing teeth to reverse or change their position.

  • Non-negotiable for Severe Cases

    Wearing retainers after braces or other orthodontic treatments for severe orthodontic issues is non-negotiable. These issues include majorly gapped teeth, displaced teeth, significant overbite, underbite, etc. Such orthodontic conditions take a considerable toll on your teeth and demand a long time to stabilize the bite.

    This is because your teeth are repositioned majorly up to a significant distance in these cases. You can’t afford them to reverse their position. Retainers put the necessary pressure to keep teeth intact.

  • Maintains Space for Wisdom Teeth

    This benefit is generally for patients in their teens and preteens. Some of your wisdom teeth are about to erupt. When you use retainers diligently, you leave the necessary space in your jaw to accommodate wisdom teeth. It reduces your chances of getting an impacted wisdom tooth. Retainers also prevent shifting, crowding, or spacing of your teeth in the initial stage.

What Happens if You are Not Wearing Retainers for a Month?

It is natural for teeth to shift back to their original position. Retainers prevent all the orthodontic work done on your teeth for months by stopping your teeth from shifting back. Therefore it is vital to find them immediately or get a new case in case you’ve lost your retainers. And you don’t need a month to see the effect.

You can witness the change in position of your teeth within a week without retainers. So you can imagine the outcome of not wearing retainers for a month! The risk of your teeth moving back increases with the time you spend without them. The shift may not seem significant initially, but it’s enough to defer the effect of your treatment.

What are the Different Types of Retainers After Braces?

The types of retainers that are typically prescribed after braces are described below:-

  • Permanent Lingual Retainers

    This type of retainer after braces is required if your teeth are too crowded, rooted, or spaced. Permanent retainers are bonded to the back of your teeth with a wire. They don’t give you an option of taking them out as they need to be strapped to your teeth always to do their job.

    You must be careful in maintaining oral hygiene with permanent retainers, as plaque can build up in them over time.

  • Removable Hawley Wire Retainers

    Removable retainers are made of bendable wires and acrylic or plastic. The plastic or acrylic surface snuggles your teeth in a natural and comforting way with the help of the wires. They are adjustable and removable. So your orthodontist can easily change their fitting between the treatments. They are easy to clean in comparison to the permanent ones.

  • Clear Plastic Retainers

    These are the most popular types of retainers for teeth straightening and post-braces care. This is because they are made of clear plastic material, practically invisible to others. Although they have a short lifespan, they are easiest to remove and clean. Clear retainers are similar to Invisalign aligners in many ways.

You can read more about types of retainers in our blog – Permanent Retainer vs. Removable Retainer: Learn the Difference!

How Long do You Have to Wear a Retainer?

On average, you need to wear retainers for a minimum period of 12 months. But each orthodontic correction is unique, and the duration of wearing retainers after braces or Invisalign varies accordingly.

You can read more about it on our blog – Do You Have to Wear a Retainer Forever – Breaking the Myth!

How Many Hours Per Day do You Need to Wear a Retainer?

There is no question of removing with permanent retainers. In the case of removable retainers, orthodontists generally prescribe wearing them all the time apart from mealtime. You may get the exemption from wearing a retainer at night after a few months. But it all depends on the extent of your orthodontic condition and treatment progress.

How to Take Care of Your Retainers?

Proper care and cleaning of retainers ensure the unhindered progress of your treatment. You can do it in the following ways:-

  • Wash and clean your removable retainers with lukewarm water every time before wearing them again. You can also use toothpaste and a toothbrush to clean them.
  • Floss regularly between the wires of fixed retainers to ensure no plaque can build up.
  • Follow the instructions from the manufacturing company and orthodontist regarding the duration of wearing, cleaning, and storing them properly.
  • Apart from cleaning your retainers, maintain a strict oral hygiene routine as well.

Dr. Satish Pai, M.D.S

Dr. Satish Pai is an orthodontist and Ivy League trained dentist who has served as a faculty at Columbia University. He believes a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great. As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics and a Partner at Brite Orthodontics, he is dedicated to providing the best orthodontic treatments to his patients. He also writes to educate people about everything orthodontics and the importance of correctly aligned teeth along with good oral health. In his free time, you can find him golfing, doing yoga or surfing, and spending time with his family.

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