What are Retainers?

Retainers are not considered an orthodontic appliance because they don't move the teeth. They are essential, however, in almost all cases, to help stop teeth moving when the braces are taken off at the end of treatment.

Why are retainers important?

More or less every patient who has had orthodontic treatment will need to be fitted with a retainer. If retainers are not worn then the teeth may move again back towards their original misaligned position making all the hard work of wearing the braces a waste of time. Only go ahead with orthodontic brace treatment if you are sure that you are prepared to wear retainers when treatment ends.

The main two reasons that retainers are essential are:

Teeth will tend to move back towards their original positions - called a relapse. As we age teeth can move unpredictably, sometimes crossing over and showing an increase in crowding.


Wearing retainers long-term reduces the chances of these changes as we age. The longer the retainers are worn, the better the chance of keeping the teeth straight.

What is the function of retainers?


Fitted at the end of orthodontic treatment retainers will be used once braces are taken off. They might be fixed to the teeth or they might be removable. The choice of retainer for you will depend on several different factors and you will be able to discuss all options with your orthodontist. It might sometimes be necessary to wear more than one type of retainer to stop your teeth moving back.


What are the different types of retainers?

There are many types of retainer. The most widely used retainers in the UK are the vacuum-formed, the Hawley retainer and the bonded retainer.


The Vacuum formed retainer

This clear retainer is normally worn part-time and while it is being worn the wearer must not eat or drink. It grips the teeth firmly, and patients tend to adapt very well to this retainer.

The Bonded retainer

This is a fixed retainer and normally hidden from sight, fixed to the back of the teeth. This is useful, as you do not have to remember to wear it, as it is always there. Extra time cleaning around it is needed however and if it loosens then you should always go back to the orthodontist.

What are instructions for using retainers?


Each retainer has a set of instructions and your orthodontist will make sure that you understand what the instructions are for your particular retainer. You must follow these instructions because this will reduce the chances of a relapse, and will also ensure the retainers don’t cause any further damage to your teeth and gums.

What should I do if my retainer doesn't fit properly anymore?


Firstly, don't waste any time in getting to see your orthodontist. If you think that your teeth are starting to move or if the retainer does not seem to fit well anymore or if you have lost it, you have to move fast to avoid all the hard work done with the tooth straightening going to waste. The sooner the problem is addressed, the less time and money you will need to spend to resolve the situation. Don't feel embarrassed, because this does happens a lot.


If you feel that your retainer is a tight fit then you should be firm and push it into place. Your teeth should start moving within 24 hours and it should be possible to push them into place within a couple of day. Follow the instructions from your orthodontist as to when you should wear and not wear the retainer.


If you think that your teeth have moved visibly

Don't be too worried. It will ALWAYS be possible to move our teeth back to the correct position no matter how long it has been since your original orthodontic work was carried out..


If you need help or advice about your retainers then Dentist Near Me will be able to help you with a list of orthodontists at a location convenient to you.