Retainer After Braces

This visit to the dental office was special because your dentist told you that this might be your second last visit! This also means that your braces are going to be removed soon, but this can just be a guess. Depending upon the teeth settlement conditions, the brace removal process may be prolonged unexpectedly. If you are wondering how much time does it takes to remove the braces; the answer is ‘about an hour’. Oh and don’t forget that most people will have to wear retainer after braces. Learn all you need to know to be prepared!

When Will You Start Wearing Retainer After Braces?

Braces usually remain in their position for one to three years. However, after they are removed, the patient is asked to wear a retainer, which further helps in fixing the new position of teeth permanently (otherwise some slight change in position can ruin all the work that braces have done). The retainer can be used for six months or more, many times they are needed to apply at the night time only.

What to Expect? How Does It Feel?

Some people are also concerned about the onset of any negative symptoms when retainers are applied and so forth. It is important to mention that while removing the braces, no significant pain is felt but some people may experience a feeling of pressure. Likewise, in case of retainers, most patients report no symptoms but some may report slight pain which may persist for an hour. Before applying the retainers, the orthodontist carefully removes and scrape out all the glue attached to the teeth. He usually takes a mold of person’s teeth to make a new retainer after braces removal.

How Long to Wear Retainer After Braces

After examining your teeth, the orthodontist can guide about the ideal time span for which you should continue to wear your retainer. Generally the ideal time period is six months but depending on the teeth setting, age of the patient and other anatomical and physiological characteristicsthe desired duration may vary. For example, some kids are asked to wear retainers for only three months while other are only required towear at the night time.

How Will a Retainer Look Like?

Retainers are made up of plastic or metal. There is no standard measurement for retainers because they are prepared individually and customized according to every patient’s need and requirement. They may be of removable appliance type or wire bonded connected with the back of teeth.

Here's one video explaining when and how to wear your retainers:

Why Are Retainers Important?

There are several reasons why you should consider retainers after braces removal; a few are listed below:

1.     Setting the Teeth in Position

The most common reason of using a retainer is that it sets the teeth in a desirable position even after the removal of braces. Human body has a nature to grow and when it grows the teeth do some shifting on its own. A retainer will help prevent and regulate these natural shifts at the same time.

2.     For Appropriate Teeth Spacing

In some children the space among the front teeth is noticeable. Therefore, your orthodontist may advice retainers to close or reduce this space for more approximation. Make sure that in cases where a tooth closing is required; braces are not usually needed because the work can be performed by retainers very well.

3.     Tongue Cage Retainers

Tongue cage retainers are used for treating a medical condition, ‘tongue thrust’ in which the person sneaks his tongue through the teeth while talking. Tongue cage retainers (or crib) prevent the teeth from coming in between the teeth when a person talks. A small metal bar is hung from the roof of the mouth; this metal bar helps in preventing the teeth sneaking. 

Retainer After Braces: Getting Fitted and Maintenance

After braces are applied, the bone and tissue structure of the teeth and surrounding gum changes. Therefore, special care must be taken when braces are removed because in certain cases relapse may occur. The retainer must be applied until the structure or foundation of your teeth stabilizes. In case of relapse braces are applied again to fix the teeth.

Retainer Fitting

  • A retainer is placed and fitted at the top of the teeth or mouth. As the shape of every tooth is different so the shape of retainer is also different according to individual tooth; in other words, they may look similar but are different in shape.
  • Initially the orthodontist will prepare the mold of the teeth structure, the mold is prepared using a chalky liquid Alignate. The retainer is then fitted which is a fast process. Usually slight pain is felt when the retainer is attached but it goes away in less than an hour. An orthodontist will call for an adjustment if the person is feeling constant discomfort, pain in teeth or experiencing cuts on gums.
  • Patients initially feel discomfort while talking with the retainer inside mouth so it is recommended to start talking slowly once the retainer is inserted. In no time, you will get comfortable with your retainers and it won’t even bother or annoy your daily routine habits.
  • In some cases increased salivation is also observed which eventually resolves after a little interval of time.


A retainer is placed inside the oral cavity where bacteria, plaque, calculus also resides as normal flora and components. So maintenance of retainer is very important as leaving a retainer uncleansed, may aggravate the risk of developing mouth infections.

  • The proper method of retainer cleaning will be demonstrated by the orthodontist. It is important to ask relevant questions from your dentist as not all retainers require cleaning with tooth paste.
  • Retainers made up of plastic material can easily be dried off so they must be soaked in a cleaning agent such as mouth wash every day.
  • Do not place the plastic retainer directly in hot water as cracks may appear over the surface of retainer (and they will become useless).
  • For retainer prepared of metal, the wires must not be bent in any direction as they are customized so a little bend in metal can change the overall shape of retainer.
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