Just because you get your braces off, doesn’t mean your orthodontic journey is over. Teeth can – and will – shift over time. Meaning, that your newly straight beautiful smile might not last a lifetime if you don’t do something to help. Enter retainers! Keep reading to find out what they do and why they’re so important to keep your smile bright.


What is a Retainer? 

Retainers are orthodontic appliances that are usually made out of clear plastic and wire. Each retainer is specially made for each patient. The purpose of a retainer is to keep your teeth in their new positions. Over time, teeth shift and wearing the retainer your orthodontist makes for you will help to keep them in alignment.


Why Do Teeth Move Over Time? 

There are several reasons that your teeth may shift as you get older. Here are a few:
  • Jaws continuing to grow after braces are off
  • Wisdom teeth coming in
  • Teeth griding or bruxism
  • Lost teeth
  • Dental injuries
  • Tooth decay

How Do I have to Wear It? 

Just like there are no two patients that are just alike, there are no two retainers that are just alike. How long and how often you need to wear your retainer changes from patient to patient and is up to your orthodontist. Talk to Dr. Durham about your individual treatment needs and you can come up with a plan together. In some cases, a permanent retainer that is fixed to the back of your teeth might be a better fit than a removable one. There are pros and cons to both kinds. Let us help you decide what is best for you.


What Happens if I Don’t Wear as Directed? 

Keeping your teeth in their perfect position is up to you. Once you’re out of braces and out of our orthodontic chairs, there isn’t a lot that we can do to keep your teeth in place. If you don’t wear your retainers as directed, you risk your teeth moving. They might move a little, or they might move a lot – causing problems with bite and appearance. Make sure to wear your retainers as directed so that you don’t have to have braces for a second time!


You’ve Got This 

Many patients are afraid that they’ll forget to wear their retainers in the beginning. The good news is that once you get into the habit of wearing them, you’ll get used to the way they feel and you’re less likely to forget to wear them. If you lose or break your retainer, be sure to contact us immediately. The sooner that we can get you a replacement, the better. If you have any other questions about your retainer, our team is more than happy to help!