What You Need to Know About Retainers

Orthodontist Orange County, CA


So, you’ve had your braces on for what seems like an eternity (really though, it’s only a couple of years) and they’re finally coming off. Understandably, you are super excited to have the perfect, straight teeth that make this process so worthwhile. You can’t wait to show off those pearly whites! 

If you’re worried your new smile might not remain in tip-top shape as you age, there’s a solution for that. It’s wearing a retainer. This dental appliance can actually help to keep your teeth straighter for longer.

What is a Retainer?

Retainers are typically fitted at the end of orthodontic treatment once braces are removed. A retainer is a custom-made, removable or fixed dental appliance that helps your teeth stay in their new position. A retainer is an essential part of post-braces care. Retainers may also be used to treat other mild to moderate orthodontic problems. If you would like to learn more about retainers, then consider reaching out to an orthodontist from a clinic like John Redmond Orthodontics.

What Do Retainers Do?

Retainers help to keep your teeth in place after you’ve had your braces removed. A retainer will help to prevent them from returning to their original position. Most everyone will need to wear a retainer for a period of time after braces to help hold their teeth in place in the jaw in the newly configured position. Your teeth are always shifting, so a retainer can help maintain their new alignment and corrected bite pattern.

Your orthodontist will tell you how long you have to wear the retainer, but it’s most likely you will have to wear it full time for around four to six months. Then after that, you’d wear them overnight for up to a year or possibly indefinitely to ensure that your teeth remain in place.

Getting Fitted for and Wearing a Retainer

Dental professionals will fit you for your retainer using a material known as alginate (pronounced AL-juh-nate). It’s a substance that makes a mold of your teeth when you sink them into it. The process of fitting a retainer is fast, pain-free, and doesn’t even taste bad— you can even choose from different flavors!

How Does a Retainer Feel?

Some dental patients are concerned about having pain when wearing a retainer. It’s possible that the appliance may hurt the first few days you wear it until you become accustomed to it. The retainer might feel tight and kind of strange for the first several days, but with continued use, it can soon feel normal. Forgetting to put the retainer in at night may lead to some discomfort the next time you wear it. That’s because the teeth may have shifted slightly without the retainer to keep them in line. If you forget to put your retainer in at night, then the next time you put it in it may feel tight since your teeth have had a chance to move.