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Dr. Young Orthodontics of Monmouth & Ocean County Provides This Article to Explain Why it's so Important to Where Your Retainers

Irregular teeth could be due to many reasons, most common being genetics and bad habits like thumb sucking, mouth breathing, using a pacifier or bottle for too long. After removing braces, teeth tend to revert back to their original position, that is where retainers come into action.

When you have braces are on your teeth

There is a lot of bone removal and deposition happening around the teeth. The tissue surrounding the teeth is resilient in nature and show a greater tendency to get back to their initial position and shape.

Immediately after removing braces

The constant force that was acting on the teeth and surrounding tissues to bring about a change in position and alignment is abruptly removed and this corrected correction requires stabilization. The force utilized to keep the tissues in place is the retention phase of your treatment and is achieved by employing retainers. Loss of the correction with the help of braces is referred to as relapse.

Relapse can be due to:

  • ◊ Failure to address the causative factor leading to malpositioning of teeth
  • ◊ Bouncing back of resilient tissues around tooth, it takes time for these fibrous tissues to adapt to their new position
  • ◊ Muscle factor: muscles of your tongue & cheek constantly exerts pressure on teeth from both sides (imbalance in this force)
  • ◊ Growth: growth related changes
  • ◊ Eruption of wisdom teeth

Teeth and tissues reverting back to their pre-treatment position will negate the whole purpose of the initial treatment itself.

Retention is the final phase of the treatment without which the treatment is incomplete and results can result in failure of the treatment, thus retainers play a significant role after the braces are removed. 


They come in various types and are employed differently depending from patient to patient.

Types of retainers:

Fixed Retainers: They are metal wires that are attached to teeth, they are more on the permanent side.

Removable Retainers: They can be removed and worn at patients will. They are again of two kinds:

  • ◊ Retainers with metal wires
  • ◊ Clear retainers

Clear retainers are aesthetically much superior, they guide the teeth into attaining maximum contact with opposing teeth after the braces are removed.

Initially it can be difficult getting used to wearing retainers, some of the commonly encountered problems are excessive salivation, speech difficulty, a feeling of fullness in mouth etc., but overtime you get used to it but only with continuous use.

Some things to keep in mind when using a retainer:

Instructions to follow in the retention phase of your treatment will solely depend upon the type of retainer you are given. In case of removable retainers, it is highly advisable to:

  • ◊ Wear them full time for a year after your braces are removed and then at night time at least for a span of 12 hours a day
  • ◊ if they feel loose or uncomfortable, you can always get them refitted from your orthodontist
  • ◊ It’s very important to clean your retainers as your mouth already harbors bacteria, it can lead to a subsequent tooth or gum infection
  • ◊ Do not subject you retainers to extreme heat like boiling water/ microwave, or vigorous brushing as it can alter the shape and tamper the quality of the retainers
  • ◊ In either case maintain a regular follow up with your dentist to monitor the stability and maintenance of your treatment and also to assess your oral hygiene.

Sometimes use of retainers coupled with inadequate or improper brushing can lead to accumulation of deposits on and around your teeth, which can progress to gum problems eventually.

Develop a habit of regular use and take proper care of your retainers to ensure that all the pain you went through during your treatment and the time and money you invested, does not go down the drain.

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