How Necessary are Retainers After Orthodontic Treatment?

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Braces or Invisalign help you achieve a straighter smile. But what happens when they come off? This is where retainers enter the scene and take the limelight. They play a crucial role in safeguarding your newly straightened teeth.

What are retainers?

Retainers are typically clear or made from strong, thin plastic material. They fit your teeth snugly, applying pressure to hold them strongly in their newly corrected position.

They protect your teeth from shifting back to their initial position. It ensures that the months you invested in handling the braces or Invisalign doesn’t go waste.

Sprayberry Orthodontics serves patients in Auburn, East Alabama, and Opelika. The orthodontist offers the best treatment plan that ensures successful results for long time.

Types of retainers

  • Removable– The popular option as it looks just like clear aligners used in Invisalign treatment.
  • Fixed – These are bonded directly on the back side of your lower front teeth.

Why are retainers necessary?

Braces or Invisalign move teeth successfully, but your teeth have a natural tendency to slide back to their original positions. This occurrence is called relapse. It can happen due to several reasons.

  • Periodontal ligament – It is a flexible tissue surrounding tooth roots and anchors it to your jawbone. During orthodontic treatment, this ligament experiences a stretch and adapts to a new tooth position.

Nevertheless, it retains a memory of its original position and can apply force to move teeth back.

  • Wisdom teeth eruption – Wisdom teeth eruption in late adolescence can crowd the other teeth, causing them to shift.
  • Oral habits – Chewing on hard objects or unconsciously gritting your teeth are habits that can strain the teeth, leading to misalignment.

Retainers are guardians that avert these tendencies. By applying gentle and consistent pressure, they prevent teeth from relapsing. Thus, your perfect smile achieved with braces is well-maintained.

How long should you wear retainers?

There is no accurate time to wear retainers as it depends on several factors like initial misalignment severity, age, and wearing compliance.

Some general guidelines are –

  • In the initial phase, after the braces or Invisalign comes off, full-time wear for several months is instructed. It allows the teeth to settle fully into their new positions, and the bone structure stabilizes around them. [you can remove them while eating and brushing only.
  • After this initial phase, your dentist will recommend wearing retainers at night for a long time, often for life. Night-time wear is crucial because ligaments and muscles relax when you sleep. It increases the potential for shifting teeth.
  • Adults will eventually be allowed to wear retainer less frequently, depending on their case and dentist’s advice. However, for long-term smile stability, some degree of wearing retainer is usually recommended.

Role of retainers beyond braces

Retainers can serve other purposes –

  • They can help in managing minor tooth alignment in adults, who don’t desire extensive orthodontic treatment.
  • They can be used as space maintainers for children with premature loss of baby teeth. It prevents the adjacent tooth from sliding into the space.


The role of a retainer is not glamorous after orthodontic treatment, but it ensures a stable, beautiful time for life.

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