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Invisalign aligner

24 Jul 2018

Retainers - why wear them?

Like keeping a picture preserved in a frame or even backing up a year of precious work onto a hard drive or the icloud, wearing your retainer is the way that you can maintain all of your hard work and ‘retain’ your new smile.

Many people treat retainers as an after thought but they are essential in keeping your teeth in line once your treatment has finished. The teeth that you have on show are part of a much longer bone that is rooted into the jaw. When you have braces, your teeth are being moved into a new, more desirable or healthy position but here’s the thing, teeth have memory. If left unguarded, it is highly likely that they will eventually try to move back towards their original position, particularly as you get older. The British Orthodontic Society recently did a ‘Hold That Smile’ campaign around retention and created this short animation which explains more.

Types of retainers

  • Removable retainers - There are also ‘Essix’ retainers which are clear plastic moulds that’s slot around teeth and look a lot like Invisalign aligners. There are also the older type which come in the form of traditional appliances with wires that go across the teeth and fixed to a disk which rests at the top of the mouth. Both are designed to be worn at night.
  • Fixed retainers - A thin, discreet wire which is permenantly fixed onto the backs of teeth.

Grown up problems

Say you had braces as a child and have been enjoying your straight teeth for a number of years. You don’t need to wear a retainer right? Wrong. Retainers must in fact be worn for life. Adults who have had braces as a teenager and have lost or not worn their retainers often find that their teeth start to move. In fact, many of the adult patients we see have had braces before but found that their teeth had started to shift due to not wearing a retainer regularly in the past.


If you have braces, whether you have opted for fixed braces, Invisalign, clear braces or removable braces, wearing your retainer afterwards is essential to maintain all of that good work!

Whether you have a fixed retainer or provided with a removable one, it is important that you maintain it so that it continues to serve you well. Your dentist or orthodontist can help you repair a wire or replace your retainer if it begins to loose its shape after a time.

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