A Smile That Lasts: The Importance of a Retainer After Braces

Your Retainer After Braces

When you complete your orthodontic treatment, you can flash that amazing smile while you celebrate your new healthy bite! You fought the good fight and spent your time in treatment well—all to earn the outcome you wanted from the outset. Now, considering the effort of treatment, the question arises: how can you maintain your healthy bite for years to come? It’s time to discuss the importance of wearing a retainer after braces!

Contrary to what you might expect, teeth can shift positions throughout your life. Retainers initially play a strong role in maintaining your recent orthodontic work and helping everything to settle into the new position. Then retainers help prevent future shifting, holding your healthy bite in place. 

We decided to answer some FAQs about the importance of a retainer after braces.

Why would my teeth move after braces? 

Daily activities, like chewing, or your sleep position at night, can cause your teeth to move. And especially at first, your gums, bones, and muscles need to settle into the new bite. A retainer does the important work of holding them in the desired position—this is why it’s necessary to wear your retainer after braces!

What kind of retainers are there?

Retainers come in many varieties. We can discuss which is best for your use!

  • Wire. Wire retainers have a wire in front and plastic behind the teeth that is molded to match the shape of the back of your teeth and your gums. 
  • Plastic. Plastic retainers are made to fit your teeth exactly, covering the teeth only like clear aligners or covering the teeth and the roof of your mouth. 
  • Fixed. Fixed retainers are made of a wire that is set in place, adhered to the back of your teeth. These remain in place. 

Are retainers uncomfortable?

Retainers have come a long way in the past several decades, and there are comfortable options that make consistency easier. Because retainers are made using a mold or 3D impression of your teeth, the fit is perfect. With certain retainers—especially fixed wires or plastic clear aligner retainers—you may not even notice them once you are used to the initial feeling. 

How often do I need to wear my removable retainer?

If your retainer is removable, you should wear it nightly. (The dentist may suggest you wear it day and night for 4-6 months, and then nightly from then on.) This prevents shifting that can take place over time, while giving you the freedom of going retainer-free during the day. For best results, you want to continue wearing it nightly as long as you don’t want your teeth to shift! 

How do I take care of my retainer? 

Fixed braces require thorough yet gentle brushing to keep the teeth around them clean. We also recommend a WaterPik for flossing, or using a threader if you prefer regular floss. Your regular dental visits are also important to keep the area clean! 

Removable retainers should be kept clean, with washing after every use. Simply brush the retainer with dish soap and rinse with cold water before storing in the provided container. You can also occasionally clean with a solution specifically meant for cleaning retainers. On visits to the office, our hygienists are also happy to do a deep clean of the retainer for you using our special equipment. 

Enjoy your healthy bite and smile!

Now you understand the importance of wearing your retainer after braces, and how to take care of both your retainer and your teeth! We are excited for you to enjoy your healthy bite and beautiful smile for years to come. 


Interested in learning more about achieving a healthy bite? Set up a consultation with Dr. Sep and Dr. Rondeau today!

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