The day your braces are removed or you take your Invisalign® out for the last time is a day to celebrate! But this doesn’t mean your orthodontic treatment is complete. Now you’re entering the final phase of your treatment—the retention phase.
The retention phase begins when you start wearing your retainer. You’ll either wear a removable retainer, a fixed retainer, or both!
The reason you wear a retainer after braces is (quite literally) to retain your beautiful new smile! Retainers are critical for solidifying your end results after treatment with braces or Invisalign.
Whether you undergo orthodontic treatment or not, your teeth are susceptible to shifting. It’s only natural! Once your teeth no longer have the support of your braces or clear aligners, they have a tendency to revert or “relapse” back to their original position, prior to treatment. Your retainer will hold your teeth in place until they solidify in their final position and aren’t at risk of relapsing anymore.
The amount of time it takes to treat your smile with braces will depend on three key factors:
At the beginning of your retention phase, you’ll wear your retainer for 24 hours, throughout the day and night.
After 6 months or so, your orthodontist will let you know when you can reduce your wear to nights only! Then, you’ll be able to wear your retainer only a few nights a week.
When your braces or Invisalign treatment is coming to an end, we’ll help you prepare for your retention phase! We’ll tell you how to wear your retainer, how frequently to wear it, and when you can start wearing it at night only.
There are different types of retainers, including fixed retainers and removable retainers.
Fixed, or permanent, retainers are cemented behind the top teeth or the bottom teeth. Fixed retainers are curved metal wires, custom-made to fit your exact dental arch.
These retainers typically remain in place for a lifetime to support your beautifully aligned smile. After a week of wearing yours, you’ll forget it’s there!
Depending on your condition, you may have a fixed retainer bonded behind your top teeth, one bonded behind your bottom teeth, or both. Fixed retainers are incredibly convenient, because once they’re in place, they shouldn’t budge.
Removable retainers are retainers that you can place in your mouth and remove as needed. These ones come in a variety of different styles.
The most popular removable retainers are Hawley acrylic retainers and Essix retainers:
A Hawley retainer uses an acrylic plate and metal wires to hold your smile in place. The acrylic plate sits behind your upper, front teeth, in the roof of your mouth. The metal wires fasten around your front teeth and fit between your back teeth to anchor the retainer in place.
The Hawley retainer acrylic plate comes in a variety of different colors and patterns for you to choose from!
Essix retainers are very similar to Invisalign® clear aligners. These removable retainers are clear and practically-invisible, made out of flexible, high-quality plastic. Like Invisalign, the Essix retainer covers your entire dental arch to hold your teeth in their position.
Many people choose the Essix retainer, because it’s practically invisible and doesn’t cause a temporary speech impediment. (Because Hawley retainers fit in the roof of your mouth, they can cause minor speech impediments while in place.)
Your retainer is a part of your orthodontic treatment! We don’t charge additional money for your retainer. This cost will be included in the affordable payment plan you choose.
In the event that you lose or break your retainer, there may be a cost to replace or fix it. To prevent this from happening, be sure to care for your retainer properly!
We’re here to answer your questions, and we want you to know your options! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time. We want what’s best for you and your child’s smile, and we believe patient education is essential for helping you achieve the greatest results.