Whether you’re thinking about orthodontic treatment, or currently undergoing treatment, you may be wondering, “Will I need to wear retainers after treatment?” The answer is yes, and here’s why. Getting straight teeth is only half the battle; the other half is keeping them straight, and that is where retainers come in.
Changes in tooth position are a lifelong and naturally occurring phenomenon, and to maintain the result created by your orthodontic treatment, retainers must be worn. While small changes after treatment concludes are normal, retainers prevent teeth from going back to their original positions.
Why are retainers needed?
Retainers are prescribed for two reasons: first, to allow the bone that holds teeth to rebuild after teeth have moved, and second, to maintain the healthy new positions of teeth after active orthodontic treatment ends. Your body changes your whole life, and your teeth change too.
Are there different retainer options?
Yes, there are two general kinds of retainers: removable (put in and removed by the patient) and fixed (placed and removed by the orthodontist). Both types of retainers hold teeth in their new positions after “active” orthodontic treatment is completed. This allows newly formed bone to mature around the teeth.
Two common removable retainers:
- Wire retainers are made of wire and a plastic-like material. The part of the retainer that covers the roof of the mouth or goes behind the lower front teeth is plastic and wires help told the teeth in place.
- Clear retainers are transparent trays made of a plastic-like material that are exact replicas of the teeth.
The orthodontist will teach you how to insert, remove and take care of a removable retainer.
A fixed retainer consists of a thin, custom-fitted wire that is bonded to the tongue-side of upper or lower teeth.
How long will I have to wear them?
As long as you want to keep your teeth straight, many patients wear retainers nightly for life. Wearing retainers becomes part of your oral hygiene routine: brush and floss before bed, and wear retainers at night for a lifetime.
See an AAO orthodontist
When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a highly skilled specialist. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possess the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org/locator