Why You Need A Retainer After Braces


Happy day! You’re finally getting your braces removed after months or even years of orthodontic treatment. You made that significant investment to improve your smile and your oral health, and now it’s time to reap the benefits. But wait! Your WNC orthodontist just mentioned the word “retainer.” Why are they saying that you need a retainer right after you got those metal brackets removed from your teeth?

This bit of news does come as a bit of a surprise to some of our patients in Western North Carolina. Unfortunately, some people also don’t take their retainer as seriously as they should. You don’t want to make that mistake. You do need to wear a retainer after you get your braces taken off and here’s why.

Orthodontic retainer used after braces in North Carolina

Why Do You Get A Retainer After Braces?

Orthodontic treatment is an investment. Depending on the issues that are being treated, it can take years to fully perfect a patient’s smile. After all that time and work, you want to ensure your teeth remain perfectly aligned for the rest of your life right? This is why you need to wear a retainer after braces.

For the first couple months after you got your braces off, you will be instructed to wear your retainers regularly. This is a crucial period of time, because some relapse movement can occur after the brackets have been removed from the teeth (more on that later).

The Retainer Is an Essential Orthodontic Appliance

A retainer is a very important orthodontic appliance that is worn by patients after they have their braces removed. Remember that the purpose of this appliance is to keep the teeth from shifting out of their proper alignment. You may be wondering why this is necessary. Over time, your jaw changes and this can cause shifting in the teeth (especially if you got your braces at a young age). You also use a variety of muscles each time you speak. Your tongue for instance is a significant muscle that pushes on your teeth constantly in order to form words. This pushing can cause shifts.

Are There Different Types of Retainers?

For our orthodontic patients here in Western North Carolina, Blue Ridge Orthodontics offers 2 types of retainers after they get braces.

Fixed Retainers

A fixed retainer is essentially a wire that is bonded to the tongue side of the teeth. As the name implies, this type of retainer is meant to stay fixed in place indefinitely. depending on how long you’re fixed retainer has been in place, the bonding agent used can weaken. It is possible that harder types foods could break away the bonding and expose the wire. At this point, you should make an appointment to have your fixed retainer repaired.

Removable Retainers

If your orthodontist is confident that you will be able to wear your retainer or the prescribed duration, they may give you a removable retainer after you get your braces taken off. This type of retainer can be removed when needed as the name implies. More advanced orthodontic technology such as Invisalign and BRO’s Impressions can also function as removable retainers.

How Long Do You Need to Wear Your Retainer After Braces?

For Removable Retainers

Remember that you’re going to need to wear your retainer initially all the time. Remember, with removable retainers you are able to take them out in order to eat or drink. They are convenient, but it is so important that you stick to the prescribed duration. The bone mass around the shifted teeth will be comparatively soft during these first few months after your orthodontic treatment has completed. The retainer keeps teeth from shifting into this softer bone mass.

If you follow our instructions during the first couple months, then you can switch to just wearing it during the night. You should wear it every night if you would like to keep your teeth in proper alignment for the rest of your life.

If it has been years or even decades since you got your braces taken off, it is important to note that the teeth tend to shift naturally as people age. do you still wear your retainer at night? If you stop wearing your retainer, you may begin to notice some shifting in your teeth. If you have questions, then please give us a call at (828) 585-6045. Our orthodontists can make sure you retain the smile that you invested so much in.

For Fixed Retainers

If you were given a permanent retainer after you got your braces taken off, then it is recommended that you keep that on for at least 10 years. If your fixed retainer has not been causing any significant hygiene problems after that amount of time, then you should consider keeping it in place for as long as you’re able to. This is because fixed retainers can cause serious issues for people who are not diligent about their brushing and flossing habits.

Now if you got braces as an adult, then it’s recommended that you keep your permanent retainer in place for the rest of your life. This is simply due to the fact that the risk of teeth shifting is greater in older patients due to grinding and other adult onset periodontal conditions.

How to Take Care of Your Retainer & Your Long-Term Oral Health

Since you will be wearing your retainer regularly for a long period of time, regular cleaning and maintenance are going to be very important. Unfortunately, some patients end up slacking on the maintenance side and eventually their retainer can get pretty nasty. Some may even discard their retainer at this point. If you follow these retainer care tips, then this won’t happen to you and you’ll be able to keep that perfect smile for the rest of your life!

How to Clean Your Fixed Retainer

Since you will be keeping that fixed retainer in your mouth for at least 10 years, proper cleaning and maintenance makes a significant difference. Otherwise, your fixed retainer could put you at greater risk for gum infections and teeth cavities. Your orthodontist will provide you with a special type of floss that has a wire portion that will allow you to thread it through the teeth and under the fixed retainer. This is the only way to keep your fix retainer clean and plaque free.

How to Keep Removable Retainers Clean

Remember that removable retainers provide that extra level of convenience since you can remove them in order to eat or drink. That being said, you still need to clean them properly on a regular basis. First, we recommend that you wash them with lukewarm water after every meal. Next, you should also use a little bit of toothpaste and your toothbrush to clean them every night and morning.

Blue Ridge Orthodontics

For anyone reading this post who may be in need of adult orthodontic treatment, we do provide complimentary consultations at all of our clinics in Western North Carolina. Check out some of our before and after photos if you’d like to see what we’ve been able to do for our adult patients. As a diamond level Invisalign provider, Blue Ridge Orthodontics can offer a variety of options few orthodontists in the country can match.

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