When we remove your braces, we will begin the retention phase of your treatment.  Retainers are special appliances made by your orthodontist that will help to keep your smile straight and your bite feeling perfect. They are costume-made devices, usually made of wires and acrylic or clear plastic that hold your teeth in position after your teeth have been treated by braces or Invisalign.

Different types of retainers exist. There are two major kinds of retainers, permanent and removable. Both have distinct advantages and disadvantages. The permanent, or fixed, retainers are permanently bonded to teeth and cannot be removed by the patient (they may be removed by a dentist in the future if desired though this is rarely done). They can be a great solution for patients that can be forgetful, had significant crowding or irregularity of the front teeth prior to orthodontic treatment. Removable retainers are much more common and can be removed and cleaned by the patient. They make it easier for the patient to brush and clean their teeth. Be sure to ask your orthodontist about which retainer might suit your needs the best.

Removable retainers come in two main varieties – 1) Hawley retainers that are the traditional acrylic retainer with the metal bar across the front teeth and 2) clear retainers similar to Invisalign aligners. While everyone might want the “invisible” type retainer, there are often reasons why they would be considered a poor choice for long term retention of your perfect smile. Our orthodontists will be happy to discuss the best retainer option for your or your child at your next visit.

Once your orthodontist has finished straightening your teeth, the thrill of having the braces removed often leads to overlooking the necessity of using your retainer on a regular basis. The retainer is your insurance policy. The longer the retainers are kept as part of your dental health routine, the better chance you will have that your teeth will stay as straight as the day your braces were removed.

Your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers, so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far. Remember to remove your retainer before brushing and eating and to brush your retainer before placing it back in your mouth.  When it is not in your mouth, protect it by keeping it in the case your orthodontist provided. This will ensure that you maintain that beautiful, healthy smile for a lifetime!

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