Keeping Your Smile Straight For A Lifetime


The day your braces come off is an exciting one … but keep in mind, your treatment isn’t over yet! Once we remove your braces, we’ll begin the retention stage of your treatment. Although your teeth have shifted to a new position, they aren’t settled there and without proper retention, they could move back to their original location and erase all of your hard work!

Retention is an important stage that occurs after undergoing any kind of orthodontic treatment and involves wearing an orthodontic appliance known as a retainer. All of our retainers and custom-made to fit your smile and your needs. Dr. Herrington will help you find the type of retainer that works best for you. From there,  we’ll discuss how long you need to wear your retainers and when you need to wear them.

How Long Do You Have To Wear A Retainer?

Retention is made up of two phases. During the first phase of retention, Dr. Herrington will have you wear your retainer all of the time except when eating or brushing your teeth. This constant wear will allow your teeth to settle into their new position and for the periodontal ligaments to adjust to their new position. During this phase, the orthodontist will monitor your teeth to determine when it is time to move to the final phase.

The final phase of retention lasts your lifetime. During this phase, you will only have to wear your retainer at night. If you want to retain your beautiful, straight, healthy smile, you will need to wear it. As time goes on, you can wear your retainers a little bit less. Skipping an occasional night or two is no big deal. A good rule of thumb is to aim to wear them every other night forever.

Why Are Retainers Necessary?

Your new teeth are perfectly aligned. Do you still need to wear a retainer? Yes. Your teeth will start moving back to their original position before treatment almost immediately!

You may not notice your teeth move back at first. That’s because the fibers called ligaments that hold the teeth in position, but they may take a few months to adjust. To keep your beautiful smile in place and to get the most out of your investment, it’s important to wear your retainer as instructed.

Three Types of Retainers

The day your braces get removed we’ll clean your teeth and take X-rays to determine how well your treatment has worked. Then, we’ll fit you for your retainer and start preparing it for you to take home.

There are three basic types of retainers available today; each works best in particular situations.

The most common is the “Hawley” retainer — a thin piece of acrylic created to fit your mouth perfectly with a wire that holds your teeth in place. The Hawley retainer is durable and easy to place and remove.  Patients are also able to customize the plastic arch of this type of retainer with different colors and designs. It can also be adjusted to correct minor tooth movements if unworn for a short amount of time.

A common type of retainer is the clear-aligner type retainer, which is very similar to Invisalign. These retainers are made of clear, BPA-free plastic and customized to fit your new smile perfectly. Like Invisalign aligners, these retainers are nearly invisible and wireless. Like the Hawley retainers, they are also removable and easy to clean. However, these types of containers are thought to be slightly more prone to breaking than the Hawley retainers. Not everyone is a candidate for clear-aligner retainers, including patients who grind their teeth.

Finally, fixed retainers, also known as permanent retainers, may be an option for some people, especially on the lower front teeth. Though this kind of retainer cannot be removed, it is not noticeable to anyone but the wearer. It includes a wire that spans the inside of the bottom teeth and may be worn for several months or longer. Fixed retainers are a great option for patients with teeth or certain conditions that make the it more likely for the smile to shift to its original position.



To Make You Smile



Midlands Orthodontics

Mon- Thurs: 8:00-5:00
Fri: 8:00-12:00