Wearing Retainers After Braces

Braces work by forcing misaligned teeth into a new position and help to create a beautiful smile but for the maintenance of your new bite following orthodontic treatment, a retainer is very important. After braces are removed, the bones, gums and muscles in the jaw need time to adapt to the newly positioned teeth.

A retainer is used to keep the teeth in their new position and to prevent them from shifting back to their original position. This shift is known as an orthodontic relapse and if it occurs, braces will need to be fitted again to correct the shift in position.

In addition to the fact that teeth can slowly move back to their original position in the jaw, our natural aging process means that teeth will eventually start to shift anyway. Wearing retainers after braces will ensure that teeth are kept in perfect alignment, which will ultimately have a massive impact on the maintenance of your smile.

Different kinds of retainer

After braces are removed, an impression will be taken of your newly straightened teeth and your dentist will make a retainer using wire and acrylic. Not as visible as braces, retainers can be either fixed or removable. A fixed retainer is a wire that is fitted along the back of your teeth and bonded in place. Although having this kind of retainer fitted means that teeth are harder to clean, they are very efficient when it comes to holding your teeth in perfect formation. If you do have a fixed retainer fitted, you will need to floss much in the same way as you did when you were wearing braces.

A removable retainer is a wire fitted across the front of your teeth and is held in place by acrylic clasps that hook around the back teeth. This type of retainer can be removed, making it easier to clean both the retainer and your teeth, but they are far more likely to get lost or damaged. However, this issue can be easily avoided by making sure that when not in use, your retainer is kept in a case. As they can be removed, these kinds of retainers are usually only worn at night or for a few hours during the day.

How much do retainers cost?

TypeApproximate price
Clear$100 - $250
Fixed$250 - $500
Hawley$150 - $300

How long will you have to wear your retainer?

In most cases, a retainer will need to be worn for as long as braces were worn. However, depending on the severity of the initial problem, some people are advised to wear their retainers indefinitely. This may seem like a daunting thought but after the first six months, retainers are usually only worn at night and even then not necessarily every night. Fixed retainers are usually worn for five years until they need to be either removed or changed.