What Is the Retention Phase After Braces and Why Is It Important

by Carter Toni

After dedicating considerable effort, the dynamic phase of your orthodontic journey is nearing its conclusion. The unveiling of your splendid new smile is on the horizon, a prospect that resonates with not just your enthusiasm but also the fervor of the Johnson Family Orthodontics team. Yet, as the moment approaches to bid farewell to braces in Farmington Hills or your final clear aligner, an equally significant phase emerges—retention. This phase, paralleling the initial stage in significance, commences once your orthodontic hardware is removed. Rest assured, Dr. Johnson will impart comprehensive insights into the proper usage and maintenance of your tailor-made retainer when the time is right. In the interim, familiarize yourself with the essentials of this pivotal concluding stage, bridging the gap before you transition into this new facet of your orthodontic journey.

What Do Retainers Do?

Retainers serve a crucial role in orthodontic treatment by maintaining the alignment and position of teeth after braces or clear aligners are removed. They prevent teeth from shifting back to their original positions, allowing the results achieved during the active treatment phase to become permanent. By wearing retainers as directed by your orthodontist, you ensure that your newly aligned smile remains intact over time. Retainers can be custom-made to fit your teeth precisely and come in various types, including removable and fixed options. Regular use of retainers helps ensure a stable and lasting outcome for your orthodontic journey.

Why Are Retainers So Important?

Retainers hold a pivotal role in orthodontic care due to their ability to preserve the results of previous treatment efforts. After braces or clear aligners have corrected teeth alignment, the jawbone and surrounding tissues need time to adapt to these changes. Retainers play a crucial part in this phase by stabilizing teeth in their new positions, preventing unwanted shifting. Without retainers, teeth can gradually revert to their original misalignment, negating the progress achieved during active treatment.

By consistently wearing retainers as prescribed by your orthodontist, you ensure that your investment in a straighter smile remains secure. Retainers are tailored to fit your teeth comfortably and can be removable or fixed, depending on your needs. This diligence in wearing retainers as directed contributes to a lasting, confident smile, showcasing the effectiveness of your orthodontic journey.

How long will retainers need to be worn once treatment is complete?

The duration of retainer wear post-treatment varies, often depending on individual factors and the specifics of the initial orthodontic correction. Generally, retainers are initially worn full-time for a few months, allowing teeth to stabilize in their new positions. After this period, wearing them at night is typically recommended to prevent regression. Over time, the frequency might reduce to a few nights a week. However, it’s crucial to follow your orthodontist’s guidance, as the retention phase is essential for maintaining the achieved results. This ensures a lasting and confident smile that stands the test of time.

What Types of Retainers Are Available?

Retainers are essential components of orthodontic treatment, ensuring that the results achieved during active correction endure over time. They come in various types, each with distinct features and benefits. Understanding the available options can help you work with your orthodontist to choose the most suitable retainer for your needs. Here are the primary types of retainers:

Hawley Retainers:

These are the most recognizable type, consisting of a metal wire that wraps around the front teeth. A customized acrylic piece fits against the roof of the mouth or behind the lower teeth. Hawley retainers can be adjusted and are highly durable, but their visibility and bulk might be a consideration for some patients.

Clear Retainers (Essix Retainers):

These retainers are made from clear plastic that fits snugly over the teeth, resembling clear aligners. They are virtually invisible and offer a discreet option for post-treatment maintenance. They need to be removed for eating and cleaning, and while they are less noticeable, they might not be as durable as other options.

Fixed Retainers (Bonded or Lingual Retainers):

These are thin wires bonded to the back of the front teeth. They are not visible when you smile and are ideal for those who might forget or find it challenging to wear removable retainers consistently. However, they can be a bit challenging to clean around and might require extra care to prevent plaque buildup

Removable Vivera Retainers:

These are created by Invisalign and are similar to their clear aligners. They are custom-made for your teeth and offer a snug fit. They are often more durable than other clear retainers and can be removed for eating and cleaning.

Palatal Expanders:

Sometimes used in orthodontic treatment, these are used to widen the upper jaw by placing gentle pressure on the palate. While not traditional retainers, they can serve a retention function after they’ve achieved their intended expansion.

Bite Plates or Splints:

These are used to correct a misaligned bite by guiding the jaw into proper alignment. While primarily designed for bite correction, they can have retention benefits as well.

Is it difficult to care for retainers?

Maintaining your retainers is uncomplicated, especially with guidance from a trusted dentist in Farmington Hills. Standard care involves rinsing them after meals, brushing gently with a soft toothbrush, and occasionally using mild soap. Caution against hot water, which may alter the retainer’s shape. Remember to remove them while eating to prevent harm and store them in their designated case. Routine visits to your orthodontist ensure correct fit and address issues. Following these steps ensures your retainers’ effectiveness and durability, bolstering the long-term achievements of your orthodontic journey. For personalized retainer care guidance, contact us at (248) 476-4416, Pearl Dental PC is here to support your oral health goals.


Ready to ensure the lasting benefits of your orthodontic journey? Count on Pearl Dental PC for expert guidance on retainer care. Contact us at (248) 476-4416 to schedule an appointment and learn the best practices for maintaining your retainers. Our team is dedicated to your oral health and the longevity of your beautiful smile. Don’t let retention be a challenge – let us guide you towards successful post-treatment care.

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