What is an Orthodontic retainer and do I need to wear one?

Updated: Dec 18, 2018

If you or your child has had Orthodontic treatment, then the answer is, probably, yes.

The most common reason for wearing a retainer is help keep your lovely new straight teeth in their new position after you have finished wearing braces.  Whether you are a child or an adult, your teeth and body continues to grow or change and, if left unsupported, teeth will have a natural tendency to gravitate back to their original positioning.


Orthodontic retainers are custom made devices usually made of wires or clear plastic.  Patients will be required to wear them every night initially after completing treatment, and many during the day too – Your Orthodontist will be able to advise what is necessary on a case by case basis.   These appliances will be removable to aid eating and drinking, but must be returned into position afterwards to maximise its effect.


The plastic retainers look a little bit like Invisalign trays or Teeth Whitening

trays and are provided with their own case for protection when not in use.


Another reason a retainer may be worn is actually instead of needing more extensive Orthodontic treatment.  For example, to close a small space between teeth or to just move one tooth, sometimes a retainer will do the job.  They would be worn, however, for several years to close the space and then to keep the gap closed too!   These types of retainers will be made of metal wires and fitted round the teeth.   They would also be removable for the purposes of eating and drinking etc.


Whilst wearing your retainer, in the early days you may experience a feeling of extra saliva in the mouth due to the presence of a new ‘object’ in the mouth.  You may also have difficulty speaking for a while until you get used to it.  Both of these feelings will go away over time.


The other type of retainer you or your child may be provided with is a ‘bonded’ or ‘fixed’ retainer.   This is a wire bonded to the back of the front teeth, usually just the bottom ones, but can be applied to the top as well.   These retainers are fixed in place and cannot be removed by the patient.


Fixed retainers can sometimes cause extra tartar build-up so it is important that you take extra care with your oral hygiene and increase your flossing around this area.

Your Orthodontist will talk to you about your treatment and what is the best form or retention of you. 


Remember, if you want to keep your beautiful smile, you need to wear a retainer!


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

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