After Fixed Braces - Retainers

Is the Work Over?

If you’ve spent some months or even years undergoing uncomfortable and sometimes unattractive orthodontic treatment with fixed braces, you could be forgiven for never wanting to see another set of braces in your life having had your standard “train tracks” or even the more hidden Lingual braces removed. However, it would be frustrating to go through all that treatment only for your teeth to relapse and start to return to the positions they were in prior to the orthodontic treatment. This is where retainers come in, as they can help hold the corrected teeth in place after fixed braces have been removed.

Stick With It

The chances of a relapse are very high in the first moth after finishing orthodontic treatment with fixed braces, so it is important that you get fitted for a retainer quickly and wear it as often as possible. Retainers are an important tool as your teeth and the bones surrounding them adjust to the work that has been done. On average, it is recommended that retainers are worn for as long as you had your fixed braces; so if your treatment lasted six months, that’s how long you should wear the retainer.

Your orthodontist will make personal recommendations as to how long per day you should keep your retainer in. Sometimes, it may only be needed at night, but if you have had major corrective work carried out, you may be told to wear the retainer permanently or even have a fixed one fitted. It is important that you follow the instructions you are given regarding wearing your retainer as you may need to undergo further treatment if your teeth start to return to their original positions. Some adults choose to wear their retainers at night for the rest of their lives, as recommended by many orthodontists, in order to ensure that their smile remains perfectly straight.

Fixed or Removable?

Retainers can either be removable or fixed depending on how likely your teeth are to relapse. The removable retainers are pieces of wire attached to plastic plates, which can be fitted in the upper or lower jaw. Permanent retainers are much more subtle then fixed braces, usually consisting of just a piece of wire bonded to the back of the teeth. These may cause some discomfort upon being fitted, but nothing compared to anything you will have endured with the fixed treatment! Removable braces may take some time to get used to, particularly in the upper jaw, where they may affect your speech and produce too much saliva.


With fixed retainers, the important thing is to make sure you clean your teeth properly, particularly the back where the wires are fitted. Removable retainers can be removed for eating and for brushing your teeth, making them less likely to cause any tooth decay or similar problems. They should be removed if playing sports in case they cause an injury in your mouth and you may choose to remove them for social occasions. You should keep your retainer itself clean by brushing it with a toothbrush under running water. If you are not wearing your retainer, keep it safe in the box your orthodontist will provide so it does not become lost or damaged.