The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer

Retainers are just as important to your orthodontic results as your braces. Why? Because without a retainer, your teeth may move back into their original, crooked position faster than they were straightened.

We understand how exciting it is to be finished with braces. Our patients at Glow Orthodontics can’t stop smiling the day their beautiful, straight teeth are revealed.

We also know you want to be done with dental appliances. But your retainer is the only way to maintain your results, and before long, you’ll only need to wear it during the night. Here’s a quick look at why retainers are essential.

Braces change your bone structure

When you wear braces, whether they’re traditional metal braces or clear aligners, the braces apply continuous pressure to the teeth being moved. This pressure pushes your tooth against the bone, forcing the bone to accommodate the movement.

The bone that’s in the way of your tooth gradually dissolves and is absorbed into your body. This is part of a natural process called remodeling that all your bones go through. Remodeling allows bones to stay strong and healthy by allowing them to get rid of old or damaged bone and regrow new bone.

As your tooth moves into its new position, new bone grows in to fill the empty space where the tooth used to be. Then when your teeth are in their final, perfect position, the bone finishes filling in around them.

Retainers support your teeth while the jawbone heals

After your braces are removed, your bone needs time to regrow and strengthen. During this time, your teeth can easily relapse and slip back toward their original position because the bone isn’t strong enough to resist the memory of the tissue surrounding the tooth. The only way to prevent that from happening is by wearing a retainer that holds your teeth in their new position while the bone heals.

When your braces first come off, you’ll need to wear your retainer all the time. How long this period lasts depends on individual factors like the amount of tooth movement required to align your teeth. We can tell you the time frame when we create your orthodontic treatment plan.

Soon, you’ll be able to stop wearing your retainer during the day and wear it in at night while you sleep. This phase will last longer because we want to be sure your teeth don’t relapse.

Retainers protect your teeth from changes over time

As the years go by, everyone’s bone structure changes. Wearing a retainer helps to maintain your tooth alignment despite these changes. For this reason, it’s important to keep wearing your retainer at night for years to come.

Choice of retainers

You can choose from two basic types of retainers:

Fixed retainers

For fixed retainers, we attach a thin metal wire to the back of your teeth. These retainers are mostly hidden when you smile, but they take extra care to clean and floss. Many patients prefer to wear fixed retainers if they are also careful and do not eat hard, crunchy, chewy foods as these foods can break the thin metal wire or the bonds attaching the wire to the tooth.


Another retention option is clear removable retainers which are made out of clear material that’s molded to fit around your teeth, like an Invisalign type tray. The retainer fits very snugly and should be removed when eating or drinking anything other than water. Remember to brush your teeth and clean your retainers before replacing them on your teeth.

Retainers will maintain and stabilize your new corrected bite for that beautiful new smile. 

If you have any questions about retainers or getting your teeth straightened, we’re here to help. Call the Glow Orthodontics office that’s most convenient for you. We’re in Manassas, Woodbridge, and Fredericksburg, Virginia.


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