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Do You Have to Wear a Retainer After Braces? Here’s What to Expect

Are you looking forward to the removal of braces and envisioning your beautiful smile without the metallic glare? After completing your braces treatment, the retention phase begins. One of the essential aspects of this phase is wearing a retainer.

But why is it necessary? 

This article will explore everything you need to know about retainers and answer that all-important question: Do you have to wear retainers after braces?

What Is a Retainer?

A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic device that typically fits in your mouth after you have completed your braces treatment. Their purpose is to hold your teeth in their new, correct positions and prevent them from moving back to their old alignment. This is a process known as orthodontic relapse.

Retainers can be made from various materials, including plastic or metal. It also comes in different types, including removable and permanent versions. Overall, they play a vital role in maintaining a straight smile after braces. So, do you need retainers after braces? The answer is yes.

What Are the Various Types of Retainers?


Removable Retainers

These custom-made devices are a popular type of retainer designed to complement the structure of your newly aligned upper and lower teeth. The flexibility and convenience of these removable retainers stand out, particularly as they are typically worn at night.

Their design is especially advantageous during mealtimes and for maintaining oral health. Given their ease of use and uncomplicated maintenance system, removable retainers are commonly recommended for orthodontic treatment.

Permanent Retainers

This type of retainer, also termed fixed retainer, is securely attached or bonded to the back of your teeth. This is specifically made to prevent unwanted tooth movement. These fixed retainers are invisible when you smile or talk, offering continuous support to maintain straight upper teeth.

Their reliability for maintaining orthodontic treatment results is superior, given that they are not reliant on patient compliance. However, they require extra care while brushing and flossing to avoid the build-up of plaque.

Plastic Retainers

Also known as Essix retainers, these clear aligners are made from durable, transparent plastic without the use of conventional metal wire. These upper retainers fit snugly over the teeth, reducing minor tooth movements.

They are created for their remarkable discretion and are hardly noticeable when worn. Favorable for their ease of cleaning, plastic retainers might need a replacement retainer over time if they become worn out or lose their shape.

Why Do You Need to Wear a Retainer After Braces?


Retention and Orthodontic Relapse

After your braces are removed, marking the end of the active phase of your treatment, your teeth enter a sensitive period known as the “retention phase.” During this time, wearing a retainer, especially at night, becomes vital to prevent orthodontic relapse. This is because your teeth can easily move into their previous misaligned original positions if not retained during this period of time.

Support Bone and Soft Tissue Regrowth

Orthodontic retainers, which can range from those with bendable wires to custom retainers made to fit your mouth perfectly, play a vital role in securing your teeth in their new positions and supporting bone and soft tissue regrowth. Your teeth are embedded in your jawbone and surrounded by soft tissues that have been deformed during orthodontic treatment with braces. Wearing a retainer helps to guide these structures as they rebuild themselves around the new tooth positions.

Keep in mind that maintaining the corrected alignment of your teeth requires continuing to wear your retainer even after having your wisdom teeth removed surgically. So, do you get a retainer after braces or after wisdom teeth removal? The answer is yes, as this orthodontic tool is necessary for maintaining the perfect alignment that braces have achieved. The space left by the removed wisdom tooth might cause other teeth to shift, making the use of orthodontic retainers even more essential.

Maintenance of Oral Health

Retainers not only hold teeth in position but also significantly affect long-term oral health. Following a comprehensive braces removal procedure, it’s important to keep your retainer clean. Just as you would use a floss threader to pass dental floss between your braces, you should regularly clean your retainers to prevent a buildup of bacteria and plaque. This routine ensures the maintenance of healthy teeth, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Enhance Confidence and Aesthetic Appeal

Wearing a retainer, particularly your custom retainer at night, genuinely contributes to the maintenance and health of your smile. Well-aligned, healthy teeth are not only easier to clean, but they also enhance your physical appearance and boost your confidence. This improved aesthetic appeal is one of the main benefits you certainly would want to retain after going through an extensive braces procedure.

Wearing retainers post-braces is vital for both health reasons and maintaining the alignment of your teeth over time. You might wonder, do you get retainers after braces? Yes. It’s also important to remember that wearing a retainer isn’t merely a short-term commitment—it’s a constant one, with a duration often lasting as long as you wish to maintain the admirable results of your orthodontic treatment.

Essential Retainer Care Tips

  • Clean Your Retainer Regularly. Retainers should be cleaned every day to prevent the buildup of bacteria. Rinse them thoroughly with lukewarm water and use a toothbrush with mild, unconcentrated toothpaste or a dedicated retainer cleaner to scrub their surface gently.
  • Never Use Hot Water. Always use lukewarm or cold water when cleaning your retainer. Exposure to extreme heat can warp the plastic and cause it to lose its shape, which can lead to a poor fit.
  • Avoid Abrasive Cleaners and Tools. When cleaning your retainer, you should avoid using harsh cleaners or abrasive scrubbers that can cause harm to the retainer’s material.
  • Remove Retainers When Eating. To prevent damage and staining, always remove your retainer before eating or drinking anything other than water.
  • Store it Properly. When not in use, store your retainer in a designated case to protect it from damage and contamination. It is advisable not to wrap it in a tissue to avoid accidental disposal.
  • Regular Checkups. Have your dentist or orthodontist regularly check your retainer for wear and tear. This makes sure that your retainer is still effectively functioning and not causing problems with your oral health.
  • Do Not Lose It. A replacement retainer can be costly, so always place it in the same spot, preferably a case, when you’re not wearing it, to prevent misplacement.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals. Do not use harsh chemicals or alcohol on your retainer, as they can damage the material and affect its effectiveness.
  • Keep Away from Pets. Dogs, in particular, are attracted to the smell of saliva on your retainer and might chew on it, causing damage. It is best to always store your retainer in a safe place away from your pets.

Keep Your Teeth in Check: Contact Us for Post-Braces Retainer


The period you wear a retainer after braces is vital for the success of your orthodontic treatment. At Lake Jeanette Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry, we understand the importance of post-braces care. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve and maintain a perfect smile. Call us to experience expert care, ensuring your beautiful smile lasts a lifetime.

Proper mouth care after braces is vital to keeping teeth straight and gums healthy, leading to a confident smile. Many people ask, “Do you need a retainer after braces?” The answer is yes. Wearing your retainer, as instructed, is an important part of the post-braces care plan.

Without it, your teeth can shift back to their original position.

Please note, this is a request. We will contact you shortly to confirm your appointment