Orthodontic Retention

When your active orthodontic treatment has been completed, the retention phase begins to ensure your teeth do not move from where you've worked so hard to get them! A retainer is used to maintain the improved position of your teeth and bite.

What is a retainer? 

A retainer is a fixed or removable appliance that is custom-made to fit your teeth. Retainers are generally made from acrylic and wire.

What types of retainer are available? 

The orthodontist will make a retainer recommendation based on the nature of your original diagnosis and the orthodontic treatment plan.

The following are some of the most common types of retainers:

  • Hawley retainer – The Hawley retainer consists of a metal wire on an acrylic arch. The metal wire may be periodically adjusted by the orthodontist to ensure the teeth stay in the desired position. The acrylic arch is designed to fit comfortably in the mouth. 
  • Essix Retainers – Essix retainers are clear, plastic removable retainers that can vary in thickness depending on each person's need. Essix retainers are more esthetic than the traditional Hawley retainer and can help protect teeth from grinding or bruxism. A disadvantage is that they break and wear down more easily than Hawley retainers.  

How are retainers worn? 

Retainers are worn for varying amounts of time, depending on your orthodontic treatment and age. If your retainer is not worn as directed, your teeth may move. We will let you know how long to wear retainer. Most patients will wear retainers nightly for life.

How do I clean my retainers?

It is important to clean the inside and outside of your retainers routinely. Hawley retainers can be cleaned with a toothbrush. Vivera® retainers can be cleaned using the Invisalign Aligner Cleaning System, a similar product, or a soft bristle toothbrush with water or a small amount of toothpaste. Rinse each retainer thoroughly with water after each cleaning.

What do I need to consider when using my retainer?

There are a few things to consider for proper maintenance of your retainer:

  • Store retainers in their cases when not in the mouth.
  • Keep retainers away from heat sources.
  • Keep retainers away from pets. 

If your retainer appears to have lost its shape, or if it no longer fits when you attempt to place it on your teeth, inform us immediately.

How long will my retainers last?

With proper care, retainers can last many years. However, retainers are similar to any other device and will likely need to be replaced at some point.

What if happens if my retainer is broken or doesn’t fit?

If your retainer is broken or doesn’t fit properly, let us know immediately.

Will I continue to see my orthodontist when I have my retainer?

Yes, you will have periodic retainer checks with your retainers. Be sure to bring them to your appointments!

Retainers Keep Your Teeth From Becoming Crooked Again 

If you have any questions or concerns about retainers, feel free to contact our office!


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