Orthodontic Retention

You've worked hard for your beautiful smile; keep it that way!

Finally, your braces have been removed and your smile is beautiful, straight, and best of all, metal-free! However, your orthodontic journey isn't quite completed. To keep your smile looking its best, you'll have to wear a retainer to preserve and stabilize your results. Retainers are needed to control or limit potential changes in tooth position. They are used after braces treatment to hold teeth in their correct alignment while the surrounding gums, bone, and muscle adjust to the new positioning of your teeth.

Types of Retainers

Retainers are custom-made and can be removable or fixed.

  • Traditional removable retainers typically include a metal wire that surrounds the front teeth and is attached to an acrylic arch that sits in the roof of the mouth. The metal wires can be adjusted to finish treatment and continue minor movement of the front teeth as needed.
  • Fixed retainers consist of wires bonded behind the bottom and/or top teeth. While the device is usually required no more than a year after wisdom teeth have been extracted, it is often kept in place for life.


Our patients regularly tell us they are surprised to learn they have to wear retainers for the rest of their lives. We wanted to offer a little scientific insight about why retainers are a necessary part of your orthodontic treatment.

In order to learn why it is recommended to wear retainers for the rest of your life, you have to know a few things about tooth movement.

First – The roots of your teeth are held in place by fibrous tissue that stretch and adapt while undergoing orthodontic treatment.

Second – Some of these fibers remodel and adjust to their new position after orthodontic treatment is complete, but not all.

Third – This means that fibers that do not remodel try to spring back to their original positions, bringing the teeth with them. Without the braces or retainers to hold them in place, relapse occurs.

Many people who do not wear retainers after their braces are removed mistakenly think their teeth are not moving over time simply because they do not see obvious changes in the position of their teeth. The fact is for many people, teeth move very slowly. By the time relapse is noticed, it is often too late to do anything other than braces or retainers to fix it.

Think of stretching a rubber band. The longer you hold the rubber band in its stretched position, the less prone it is to return to its original position. However, by nature, it will always have a tendency to snap back. It is due to the nature of the fibrous tissue that orthodontists recommend wearing retainers, at least at night, for the rest of your life. It is the only way to ensure that your teeth will not move back and create the need for orthodontic treatment again.

Remember, you only have to wear retainers
for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight!