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The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer

Oral hygiene is essential for maintaining healthy teeth, and one of the most important steps in oral health is wearing a retainer. Retainers are used to keep your teeth healthy while they correct themselves. With the right retainer, your teeth receive structural support and will straighten out properly.

Oral hygiene is essential for maintaining healthy teeth, and one of the most important steps in oral health is wearing a retainer. Retainers are used to keep teeth from shifting and provide structural support for your smile after braces. If you have had braces removed, it’s imperative that you continue to wear your retainer!

What is a retainer?

Woman holding her retainers

A retainer is either a removable or fixed orthodontic appliance that is intended to keep your teeth in alignment after the initial orthodontic treatment has concluded. Retainers can be made of plastic or metal, depending on the type you need. They come in different shapes, sizes, colors and materials.

Your retainer will be custom-made for your mouth. Your dentist or orthodontist will make a mold of your teeth, then they will send it to the lab where your retainer(s)  will be designed specifically for your smile. It is important to obtain a customized retainer as this will help keep your teeth from falling out of alignment. 

A retainer may initially feel tight and cause discomfort, but this should fade with consistent use. 

How to wear your retainer

When it comes to how you should wear your retainer, you should follow the instructions given by your dentist. 

Whether you have to wear it during the day or at night (when going to bed), you should be consistent.  

  • Make sure it fits properly. Your orthodontist will make sure that your retainer fits before they give it to you, but if it starts feeling loose, tell them so they can adjust it. 
  • If you’re noticing that your retainer is bothering you or causing pain, it’s likely not fitting correctly.

Caring for your retainer

It is important to take the steps necessary to keep your retainer in good condition. Bacteria can accumulate in the mouth, which often causes damage to the teeth.

  • Clean your retainer regularly with warm water and soap or brushless toothpaste (this means no fluoride), 
  • Then rinse well with cold water before putting it back in place after brushing your teeth as usual

This will help prevent plaque buildup on surfaces inside the mouth that are otherwise hard to reach. If this happens frequently enough over long periods of time then bacteria can form inside the mouth which can lead down a path toward illness.

Why is it important?

You didn’t go through all the hard work to straighten your teeth for nothing! Unfortunately, braces don’t guarantee that the results will be permanent. Having and wearing a retainer is the best way to ensure that your teeth remain aligned and in the right position.

Teeth have a natural tendency to move back into their original place after the forces holding them have been removed. Without a retainer, it is likely that the teeth will go back to their prior misalignment shortly after having braces removed. 

The tendency for teeth to shift and regress fades over time, as they become more firmly set, but this can last for up to 18 months. A retainer helps to keep the teeth aligned and ensure the best lasting results for the appearance of your smile. It is especially important to wear your retainer as often as possible for the first 3 to 6 months after having braces removed, so that you are able to smile and eat with confidence. 

Benefits of wearing your retainer

You may be hesitant to start wearing your retainer, but once you get accustomed to it and see the benefits of straight teeth, there’s no turning back. Whether you’re an adult or a child, there are many reasons why having a retainer is important:

  • You’ll be able to eat better without worrying about your teeth shifting back into their original position.
  • Your smile will look more attractive overall if your teeth are straightened out and aligned properly with one another.
  • Wearing a retainer can prevent future problems such as cavities or gum disease because it keeps plaque away from the surfaces of your teeth (especially at night).

Even though it takes time to get used to wearing a retainer and having straight teeth, the benefits are worth it. You will be able to eat and chew better, you won’t have to worry about your teeth shifting back to their original position, your teeth will be more functional and your smile will look better overall..


The importance of wearing your retainer can’t be overstated. The longer you wait to wear it, the more likely it is that you’ll end up with problems like misaligned teeth or jaw pain. If you’re unsure about whether or not your retainers are working properly, feel free to ask us or Dr. Safavi for help!

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