What happens when my braces are removed? Will I need retainers?

Most probably yes. The tissues and bone around the roots take time to adjust to the new tooth positions and there is a particular risk of relapse in the early months after the brace is removed. Even in the longer term some risk remains and the best advice is to continue retention for the long term if possible.

Retainers may be removable or fixed, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

  • Removable retainers may be worn full time initially, but reduced to night times later or night times only from the start of the retention period. Your orthodontist will advise you on when to wear your retainer. They are effective but obviously depend on the patient remembering to wear them. They will need occasional repair or replacement, a relatively simple task although you may be charged for a replacement.
  • Fixed retainers are usually glued to the back of the teeth. They are therefore in place all the time. A high standard of tooth cleaning in the vicinity of the retainer is essential to avoid gum problems. They do need regular inspection because if any of the glue fails, the tooth in question may start to drift out of position. For this reason it is essential for the patient to contact the orthodontist at once if there is a breakage. Some general dentists are unhappy about repairing a fixed retainer and a visit to an orthodontist might be needed under these circumstances.