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What are retainers?

Orthodontic retainers are devices typically made of wires or clear plastic that hold teeth in position, usually after wearing braces, to realign teeth. Retainers are designed to hold teeth in their new position for a period of time, allowing surrounding periodontal fibres to adapt to changes in the bone, which helps minimize any changes to the final tooth position after orthodontic treatment.

Why are retainers necessary?

Whether you’ve worn metal braces, porcelain braces, or removable Invisalign aligners, you will need to wear retainers. Retainers for teeth are the final phase of orthodontic treatment. Once the treatment has been completed to straighten teeth, retainers are worn because a lifelong possibility of relapse (for teeth to return to their original position) remains.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), straighter teeth are easier to clean, and they cut down on plaque buildup and the chance of cavities. Additionally, straight teeth—along with a correct bite—help kids chew food better, thereby getting more needed nutrients.

What is involved in wearing a retainer?

We recommend seeing you every three to six months for a 12- to 24-month period to check your retainers and teeth, and to make any needed adjustments. It can be difficult, especially for kids, to form the habit of wearing a retainer correctly and for long periods of time. But it will soon become a part of their daily routine. Remember to remove your retainer before brushing. You should also brush your retainer each time you brush your teeth, before returning the retainer to your mouth.

How long must retainers be worn?

Patients are recommended to wear the retainers 12-22 hours per day for three to six months. After six months, typically one can wear them at nighttime only.