Why Do I Need to Wear a Retainer

The time is finally here–you are ready to finish up your orthodontic treatment and get a retainer! How do you feel? Are you ready for this huge transition? Thankfully at Shiney Smiles Orthodontics we have walked many patients successfully through this change and we would be thrilled to do the same for you when your time comes!

Removing your braces or aligners to enjoy your healthy, straight smile is a feeling like no other. And your smile can stay that way once you make a habit of regularly wearing and caring for your retainers. Let’s spend some time learning more about why wearing your retainer is so important, and how you can have the best long-term success with a straight smile!

What a Retainer Does

Allows Bones to Rebuild

Did you know that your teeth lose some of their density during orthodontic treatment? This happens naturally to allow the teeth to shift and adjust more easily, but after treatment is over, they need time to regain density and strength. Wearing your retainer consistently during the first few weeks and months after your treatment is over is the best way to guarantee that your teeth don’t continue to shift. This means wearing your retainer at all times except when eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth. 

Avoids Teeth Shifting in the Future

Not only is it important to wear your retainer immediately after your treatment is over, but you should continue wearing them at night indefinitely. This is because teeth naturally try to shift over time, even after they have built up better density. Wearing your retainer means keeping up the gorgeous smile that you worked so hard on during treatment and invested so much in! It also means maintaining a healthy bite and alignment that will keep your teeth in great shape for many years to come. 

Prevent Physiological Drift

Physiological drift is a natural occurrence that typically takes place as people age. Your mouth will narrow slightly, forcing your teeth to shift, become unaligned, and sometimes create tooth loss and other problems. Wearing retainers regularly can prevent this drift from taking place, or doing as much damage. This will result in healthy teeth that last a lifetime!

How Long Will You Need to Wear a Retainer?

The long and short of it is that you should continue wearing your retainer forever. As mentioned above, this not only keeps your smile beautiful but encourages healthy teeth, which will support the overall health of your body! Thankfully, after you transition to only wearing your retainers at night, you will realize just how simple it can be to manage this new habit for the long haul.

Types of Retainers


There are two commonly used removable retainers. The Hawley and the Essix. The Hawley retainer is the classic structure made of acrylic and metal. Sitting along the roof or bottom of your mouth with wires curved around your teeth to retain them, you will find the Hawley easy to wear and clean. 

The Essix retainer is made from clear plastic that encases your teeth along the top and bottom of your bite. This plastic will hold your alignment together and is sturdy enough to last for many, many years when cared for properly. They work similarly to an Invisalign aligner, but instead of rotating consistently like during treatment, there will only be one retainer that you continue to use.

Fixed Retainers

A fixed retainer is one of the simplest retainer options as it lives permanently on your teeth. Typically it is made up of a wire placed on the inside of your teeth that stretches across them to keep them from shifting. It is cemented firmly into place, though you will need to use some caution to ensure that they are not broken by chewing on hard substances.

How To Care for Your Retainer

The best favor you can do for your smile is to keep your teeth and retainers clean. With a fixed retainer it is particularly easy, as you simply clean them while you do your usual brushing and flossing. Removable retainers are best cleaned first thing in the morning when you are gearing up to brush your teeth. That way they can be stored clean and safe during the day and are ready for use again at night. 

Start by reserving a toothbrush just for cleaning your retainer. This will help you avoid using any toothpaste on the retainer, which isn’t good for it. Instead, rinse the retainer well, and then scrub it with a mild antibacterial cleaner like hand soap or mouthwash. After giving your retainer a good scrub, you can rinse it again and it’s ready to go!

Don’t forget to deep clean your retainer every once in a while, too. This can clear up any build-up or dirty spots that won’t come out when brushing. We recommend a denture cleaner like Polident that you can simply soak your retainer in. There are quite a few retainer cleaning products on the market now, so find one that you like. After soaking, just scrub out any remaining grime, and your retainer should be sparkling clean!

Why Do I Need to Wear a RetainerGet Your Own Shiney Smile!

Has the time come for you to get your own shiney smile? Then be sure to come by Shiney Smiles Orthodontics! We have offices in Huntington and Woodbury and have availability for new patients right now. And don’t miss out on the free consultation appointment with Dr. Sheinis! We can’t wait to see you soon!