Almost every patient who has had orthodontic treatment needs to wear retainers. If you do not wear these retainers then your teeth will go crooked again, and the hard work in wearing the braces will be lost. You should only go ahead with orthodontic brace treatment if you are also happy to wear retainers to keep the result at the end.

Reasons to wear retainers:

  • Teeth tend to want to move back towards their original positions. This is called relapse.
  • As we get older our teeth may start to move unpredictably, often showing some crossing over and increased in crowding.

By wearing retainers long-term we can reduce these age changes in the position of the teeth. The longer you wear retainers, the longer you can keep your teeth straight.

Retainers are fitted at the end of orthodontic treatment after the braces are removed. They are either removable or fixed onto the teeth. There are different types of retainers.

Vacuum-formed retainers

clear retainer

This is a clear retainer that is usually worn on a part-time basis. You must never eat or drink with the retainer in place. They are lightweight, transparent and removable.  They are made with vacuum formed soft acrylic and are moulded to each individual tooth.  There is a reduced amount of material in the mouth, making speech easier and to look at they are invisible.

Bonded retainers

fixed retainer 

This is a fixed type of retainer with a thin wire cemented behind the teeth. The advantage is tooth movement is less likely with this type of retainer because it permanently fixed to the teeth and therefore no reliance on remembering to wear them is required.  The intention is for them to remain fixed permanently. However, you must spend extra time cleaning around it and if it ever gets loose, you should seek advice.

Hawley retainers


They are removable retainers that fit over the teeth and are good durable retainers that will last if looked after properly. This is a strong retainer has a plastic part that fits either behind your lower teeth or in your palate behind the upper teeth. There is also usually a thin metal wire running across your front teeth to keep them in position. This retainer may affect your speech slightly when you first use it, but this quickly improves with time.

All retainers need to be cared for in their own special way.  If the correct care is neglected retainers may get damaged or lost and there would be a fee for a repair or replacement.