While going through orthodontic treatment to correct a dental issue like crowded teeth or an overbite, many patients are expected to wear retainers. For some patients, retainers may be worn continuously, except for eating, during part of the treatment. Other patients may need to wear retainers only at night while sleeping.

What are Retainers For?

Retainers, which resemble an upper denture and a lower denture, are lightweight and often made of acrylic material. Some patients use a retainer only on their top teeth or lower teeth, but others wear both upper and lower retainers. They are made from a cast model of the patient’s teeth during orthodontic treatment and are worn to hold teeth in place that have been moved during treatment, often with the use of braces.

How Long Do You Have to Wear Them?

The length of time for wearing retainers varies for each patient. In certain treatment plans, the retainers are worn over a period of several months, or perhaps a year or two. However, other patients may need to wear their retainers indefinitely into the future until their newly-moved teeth settle into their new positions and are unlikely to drift or tip.

Why are They Important?

Retainer treatment plays a significant role in reinforcing the orthodontic treatment that has already taken place. Without retainers, orthodontic treatment of using braces to move teeth into more solid and healthier positions might not last after the braces are removed. Wearing retainers for a period of time, either continually or at night, helps teeth to stabilize in their new position to reduce the risk of drift or recession.