How to keep your teeth straight after orthodontic treatment

Retainers are a vital part of your treatment; without them your teeth will almost certainly move from their new straight position. Your teeth retain a memory of their old position and will always try to move back. They settle into their new position over the first few years after the braces are removed.

How long will I need to wear retainers for?

This will depend on how your teeth looked before starting treatment. As a general rule, you should wear your removable retainers full time for the first week and then throughout the night for a further 6 to 12 months. A fixed retainer can be kept in place for approximately 10 years. However, the only way to have permanently straight teeth is to wear retainers on a part-time basis for life.

Retainers are very close fitting and a great way to monitor your teeth after treatment. If your retainers start to feel tight, your teeth may be moving. Wear them full time for 24 hours to move them back into position. This can be uncomfortable but it is very important if you want to keep your teeth straight. If you wear your retainers for just a couple of nights per week, they should last for several years. If they get damaged, contact us as soon as possible. Do not wait for your next review appointment as your teeth may have already moved.


What do I need to know?

Retainers can either be removable or fixed to the teeth. You will be advised which retainer is most suitable for you, but commonly you will be given both. Removable retainers are just as important as the braces that straightened your teeth. If you do not wear your retainers as advised, it is likely that your teeth will move and this can be difficult to correct. Having a fixed retainer in place can help, but it will not stop the teeth from moving altogether.

Dentist Keep your teeth straight for the long term
Dentist Fixed Retainers
Dentist Removable Retainers

Fixed Retainers

  • Rigid metal wire fixed to the back surface of the front teeth
  • Completely invisible from the front and held in place using small white fillings
  • Feels strange to the tongue at first, but you soon get used to it and they cause no discomfort
  • Keeping the wire clean is very important and poses the same challenge as the braces
  • Your hygienist can advise you what to do and how to do it
  • The wire and small white fillings can get damaged with normal wear and tear
  • Be cautious when eating harder foods or grinding, they are expensive to replace!

Removable Retainers

  • Rigid clear plastic trays, almost like a sports mouthguard but very thin and more comfortable
  • Feels strange at first; you may get more saliva and it may affect your speech
  • If they are uncomfortable to start with, take routine pain relief whilst wearing them and it should resolve within 2 to 3days
  • Brush them twice daily with gel soap and cold water – DO NOT use toothpaste
  • Use Retainer Brite™ twice a week to keep them looking like new
  • Clean them over a sink, incase you drop them
  • Do not eat or drink anything other than water with them in
  • Always remove them to brush your teeth
  • Do not lose them, they are expensive to replace!
  • When taking them out to eat, store them in the box provided. Do not wrap them in tissues as they can get thrown away
  • Keep them away from dogs as they love to chew them
  • Do not wear them for contact sports or swimming. Instead wear a custom-made sports mouthguard.
  • Bring your retainers to every review appointment
  • Your first set of retainers are always the best, so take care of them!

Any further questions?

For more information, please contact our patient coordinator, Jaime, on 01452 727 665 or [email protected].

Did you know that we offer care plans through Denplan?

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