Orthodontic Retention

You've worked hard for your beautiful smile; let’s keep it that way!

It’s time for a high five now that your braces or Invisalign treatment have completed moving your teeth into the proper positions. However, your orthodontic journey isn't quite completed even though your teeth are straight and you have a great smile. To keep your smile looking its best, you'll have to wear a retainer(s) to maintain your great results. It takes several months for the surrounding bone, gums and musculature to adjust to the new positioning of your teeth. In addition, the retainers will try to minimize subtle changes that will occur throughout your lifetime. Those are natural changes like with our skin getting wrinkles.

Types of Retainers

Retainers are custom-made and can be removable or fixed.

  • Traditional removable retainers typically include a metal wire that surrounds the front teeth and is inserted into an acrylic plate that sits on the roof of the mouth. The metal wires can be adjusted to finish treatment and continue minor movement of the front teeth as needed.
  • Clear retainers like Invisalign’s Aligners offer a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. It is produced from a 3D scan of all of the teeth or from a mold of your newly aligned teeth.
  • Fixed retainers consist of wires bonded (permanently) behind the bottom and/or top teeth.

Pros and Cons

  • Removable retainers can be taken out for eating and hygiene routines.
  • Removable retainers can get lost easily, so remember to keep yours in the case whenever you remove it to eat or brush.
  • Removable retainers are primarily worn only at night after a period of full time wear has completed.
  • A fixed retainer is permanent. So patients with fixed retainers have to be very diligent with brushing and especially flossing. Floss has to be threaded under the wire.
  • As you can see there are pros and cons for each of the types of retainers. If one type was greatly better than the others we would use it. However, there is no evidence of one being better than another and in our journals it shows that about 50% are using removable retainers and the other half using permanent retainers.
  • Regardless of the type of retainer being used, it’s important to make sure that the retention phase instructions are followed closely.