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The importance of Orthodontic Retainers

After orthodontic treatment, the teeth tend to slip back towards their original positions. This, if allowed to happen, is known as 'relapse'. If teeth are likely to relapse, they are referred to as 'unstable' and the phase after treatment that prevents this is called 'retention'.

Retention and the long term management of stability is one of the most important parts of orthodontic treatment.


Retainers are simple appliances designed to hold the teeth in their new positions. In some ways, they are the opposite of braces as they prevent movement rather than cause it. The main types are:

Vacuum Removable Retainers

Vacuum, Removable Retainers. These are removable and made of a very thin sheet of clear plastic moulded to fit over either the upper or lower teeth.

Fixed Bonded Retainers

Fixed, Bonded Retainers consist of fine wires bonded to the inner surfaces of the upper or lower front teeth. They are used particularly for the lower teeth as these are more prone to relapse.


Sometimes retention is only necessary for a few months but for most young patients, upper removable night time retention lasts for two years and lower fixed retention lasts until the early 20s. For some patients, particularly adults, it is necessary to recommend prolonged or even lifelong retention to ensure continued enjoyment of the new smile.

Some problems are more prone to relapse than others. Therefore, duration of retention is very individual for every patient. Please follow the specific wear instructions given to you.


The teeth become more crowded and overlapping during the late teens and early twenties. This is so common it has to be regarded as normal. The reasons are complex but it is likely that the wisdom teeth are not the only cause even though they are frequently blamed for this event. In fact, the teeth tend to become more crowded throughout life.


Compliance with our recommended retainer wear schedule is extremely important if you are to protect your hard work and investment made during your active treatment.


Upon completion of your orthodontic treatment you will be provided with a fixed or removable retainer, In some cases both.

Supervision of retention will vary from orthodontist to orthodontist.

Please note: Repair of broken retainers and re-bond/refit of lost retainers will often be charged.


Brush your retainers each time you brush your teeth. Water alone or mild soap and water are recommended. Toothpaste can dull the finish of your retainer. If calcium is depositing on your retainer, soak the retainer for a few hours using a solution of white vinegar.

Each of our retainers is custom-made in a professional lab to exacting standards. However, a retainer may break if it is forced into place after the teeth have moved as a result of not wearing it as prescribed. Dogs love to chew retainers. A retainer is easily crushed if not kept in the case when not being worn. Hot air or hot water will distort a retainer.

For further information or advice contact College Street Dental Centre in Petersfield, Hampshire on 01730 263180


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