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Wearing retainers after braces is one of the solutions to prevent your teeth from shifting back into the previous positions as well as supporting them to continue to grow stably in the new position.

Nowadays, you may hear about braces at least once. Orthodontic braces are well-known for their ability to improve the aesthetics of the teeth, which help you make the best of your smile at any moment.

In fact, the stability of your teeth after wearing braces is not really ensured, which means that the teeth may become skew and return to their original positions. This causes a significant reduction in the effectiveness of braces. To deal with this situation, it is highly recommended to use retainers after braces.

What are retainers and why do you need to wear them after braces?

Retainers are custom devices designed to hold your teeth as well as your bite in place while chewing food after you have had your braces removed. According to many experts, wearing a retainer can be as uncomfortable as braces and archwire. The inconvenience, however, is still better than spending time and money on braces again.

Types of retainers

There are many options of retainers after braces that best suit you. The most common are the following:

Bonded retainers

This is the first and most common form of retainers, usually prescribed by the dentist for the first few months after removing the archwire and braces. Compared to other types of retainers, bonded retainers provide stability of the teeth after orthodontic treatment. However, you will need to pay special attention to dental and oral care.

In addition, you will always have to wear bonded retainers until the dentist decides to remove them.

Clear plastic retainers

Clear plastic retainers

A clear plastic retainer is a transparent plastic tray designed to fit your teeth. This type of retainer is the most popular due to the advantages such as it is virtually invisible, thus ensuring high aesthetics of the teeth.

In addition, clear plastic retainers are easy to remove and maintain. This makes practicing oral hygiene much simpler than using bonded retainers. In contrast, the tooth stabilizing ability may not be as high as that of the bonded retainers.

Hawley retainer

Similar to clear plastic retainers, Hawley retainer is also easy to remove, which is convenient for you to practice oral hygiene as well as keep the retainer clean. Made of metal and comparing to the clear plastic trays, Hawley retainers have higher durability and stability. On the contrary, Hawley retainers are not aesthetically pleasing, so it is usually used at night only. Moreover, you may be at risk of lips or cheeks irritation at the first time using Hawley retainers.

What happens if I don’t wear my retainer after braces?

Your Jaw and teeth can become significantly sensitive after braces. Therefore, they are easy to shift and return to the original position if affected by factors such as:

  • Biting, tearing or chewing food

  • Tractive forces exerted by gums and periodontal ligaments. These parts are responsible for keeping the teeth in their places and they need time to "remember" these new locations.

Thus, it can be seen that using retainers after braces is necessary to ensure that the teeth are not going to relapse while the periodontal ligament and gums adjust their function. At the same time, retainers help you prevent the teeth from shifting as you go through normal day-to-day activities like biting and chewing.

If you do not use any retainers, you may need to go under the orthodontic procedure one more time in 10 years or even earlier.


How long do you need to wear a retainer after braces?

Most people will need to wear retainers after braces for 9-12 months. With a bonded retainer, you will need to wear it throughout 24 hours a day and can only remove it if required by your dentist.

Meanwhile, if you choose to wear a removable retainer, make sure that you would always use it except during meals and practicing oral hygiene. You need to follow this rule in 4 - 6 months. When your teeth are more stable, the experts can suggest wearing the removable retainer at night only.

After this period, the retainer will still be used 3-4 times per week to ensure the braces’ result lasts.

What’s the best way to keep your retainer clean?

Practicing proper oral hygiene is a great solution to protect dental and oral health. There are many different ways to keep your retainers clean and they vary by type, for instance:

How to keep a bonded (fixed) retainer clean

You need to floss a bonded retainer every day to keep them clean. Also, do not forget to tilt the toothbrush when brushing your teeth so that you can completely remove the food leftovers stuck in the fixed retainer.

How to keep a removable retainer clean

Since you can easily remove this type of retainer, keeping it clean is much simpler than the original ones. You may try these following tips:

  • Use warm water to clean the retainers whenever you put it away

  • Use special soaking solutions to preserve the retainers whenever they are not in use

  • Use a soft bristle brush to gently clean the retainers once a day. Try not to scrub vigorously as they can be damaged

  • Use a clean cotton swab dipped in water to remove any food debris that stucks in the retainers

So, If you want to have beautiful teeth when your braces come off, it is essential to wear retainers. You should visit only the reputable dental clinics in your place to get your teeth checked by dental experts as well as to choose the most suitable type of high-quality retainers.