Why Should I Wear a Retainer After My Braces are Removed?


You finally got your braces removed after a year, or more, of treatment. You feel the slimy sensation of fresh, beautiful teeth, free of metal wires and brackets, and you undoubtedly have a few questions. We’re here to answer them! (Consider this your unofficial orthodontic consultation before your official follow-up consultation.)


What type of retainer will I have? What is the process?

Most orthodontists will have your retainer ready for use within a week or two. At Fishbein Orthodontics, we will present you with your retainer the same day we remove your braces! This is to ensure you retain your beautiful smile without so much as a millimeter of teeth shifting. We offer clear retainers, fixed retainers and traditional retainers.

  • Clear retainers: Worn 18-24 hours a day, these invisible retainers are customized to your teeth following braces removal. Eventually, your clear retainer will only be necessary at night.
  • Fixed retainers: Permanent or fixed retainers are cemented against your bottom teeth and remain in your mouth until further notice. You will be provided a back up, removable retainer just in case.
  • Traditional retainers: Allowing your teeth to fit together naturally, traditional (Hawley) retainers are made of an acrylic material that fits against your palate. These are worn 18-24 hours a day and eventually are only necessary at night.

We understand that everyone has different needs. We will determine the best retainer option for you, based on your lifestyle and unique needs and suggest one of the three options above.


What happens if I don’t wear a retainer after braces?

You might be wondering just how much you can get away with. After all, you’re ready to flaunt your bright smile already!

We understand your eagerness, but failure to wear your retainer as your orthodontist recommends will make for an unfortunate situation. In order to maintain the smile you earned and deserve, the retention process is key. In fact, at Fishbein Orthodontics, we believe the retention phase is one of the most important aspects of the orthodontic process.


Teeth will shift

The soft tissues holding your teeth in place are very sensitive following braces removal, and they have a natural tendency to shift back to their home prior to braces. If there’s no retainer worn and no structure enforcing their new position, your teeth are likely to revert back to their former position. (Their former position is the reason you brought your teeth to us in the first place!) You didn’t wear braces diligently for over a year to have your teeth shift right back into misalignment once the braces are removed!


Wisdom teeth have no place

When your braces were fitted for your unique smile and bite, your orthodontist strategically left gaps for wisdom teeth to grow, depending on your age. Without your retainer, your teeth may shift backward and fill in the space reserved for your wisdom teeth. Your retainer is customized to ensure this scenario doesn’t occur and that your teeth don’t shift problematically.


Do I need to wear a retainer forever? How long do I need to wear a retainer after braces?

If you wish for your teeth to maintain their same straight, aligned and luminous condition from the day your braces were removed, simply put, the answer is yes. We advise you to wear your retainer adamantly following braces.

Our orthodontists will suggest wearing your retainer day and night, 18 to 24 hours, for an extended period of time. After that, you are able to wear your retainer only at night. Once our orthodontists give you the green light, you’ll wear your retainer 3 to 4 nights a week for the rest of your life. (We know “the rest of your life” sounds like a commitment, but you’ll thank us when your teeth are still perfectly aligned 40 years from now.)

Once your braces are removed, you will visit us for a checkup or 2 to ensure your retainer is effectively holding your teeth’s alignment and comfortable to wear.


If you have questions regarding your retention process, don’t hesitate to give us a call or schedule your orthodontic consultation. We’re here to answer all of your questions and provide you with your best possible smile!