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Importance of wearing a retainer

My teeth are already straight after completing orthodontic treatment, so why do I still have to wear a retainer?  Although your treatment has slowly guided and rotated your teeth into their ideal positions, your gums and bones will need a bit more time to stabilize in their new positions. Your retainer has been designed as a perfect mold of your newly aligned smile, and it helps make sure that your teeth won’t go back into their previous positions. By wearing your retainer, you’re providing your mouth, gums and bones with extra support they need to become fully used to their new placement, reducing the chance of a relapse and needing to begin your orthodontic treatment again.

What types of retainers are available?  There are two types of retainers: clear retainers that fit like a mouth guard, and the more well known “Hawley” retainers made of pink acrylic and wire. Both have their own unique benefits. A clear retainer is great for patients who have been told to wear their retainers during the day as well as overnight. Needing to wear your retainers during both night and day for a short time at the end of treatment is a common requirement for many patients. Hawley retainers are commonly used for patients who have had jaw surgery or whose treatment was more complex. This kind of retainer offers a higher level of stability at the end of a course of treatment.

How long is it necessary to wear a retainer?

Most patients will be instructed to wear their retainers for at least 8 hours a day, which coincides perfectly with a good night of sleep! Of course, like all orthodontic treatment, your personal recommendation might be a little bit longer depending on the complexity of your case.


Most patients are encouraged to wear a retainer for at least 24 months after the end of their treatment.  In fact, it’s a great idea to continue to wear your retainers nightly indefinitely to keep your beautiful smile in perfect condition. That way retention of that beautiful smile is for life.

By the time you get your retainer, you will already be accustomed to wearing an orthodontic appliance and it won’t feel so unusual. Further, since you’ll be able to remove it (and in some cases only have to wear it at night), it won’t interrupt your daily routines and will be very easy to keep clean.

Your retainer is an easy way to ensure your beautiful, healthy smile stays that way. When you’ve invested so much into your treatment, make it last a lifetime by wearing your retainer.

The San Diego Orthodontic practice of Dr. Lindsay Pfeffer and Dr. Noel Moser, recognize that every patient is different, and we work hard to cater to the unique needs of each patient. We offer the latest in dental braces and Invisalign, plus we treat our patients like family and will go out of our way to make them smile from the inside out!  For a free consultation, call us today at 858-756-6878.