What is a Retainer?

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A retainer is a device used to compliment orthodontic treatment. Retainers are normally completely removable and patients tend to be prescribed one after their course of orthodontic treatment using braces, has come to an end. Retainers are commonly prescribed to prevent the teeth, which have been recently moved through orthodontic treatment, from returning to their former position. Depending on the orthodontic treatment you've undergone, you may need both an upper and lower retainer. Both sorts are usually made from plastic and wire and may be permanently fixed or removable.

After finishing your main orthodontic treatment, you are usually required to wear your retainer all the time. When your orthodontist decides the time is right, you will be allowed to stop wearing your retainer full time and be given some detailed instructions on when to wear it. Although it is often tempting to never wear your retainer following a lengthy orthodontic treatment, it is vital that the retainer is worn as instructed as, if you don't, your teeth will move back into their previous positions and even more orthodontic treatment will be required to fix this, as such, it is vital that you follow your orthodontist's instructions precisely.

Retainers may also be used to correct an issue with a patient's bite or occlusion. As well as correcting the alignment of individual teeth, dental retainers can also be designed to adjust the alignment of whole sets of teeth which are producing an under or overbite. This type of retainer will normally have to be worn all the time during the treatment period. In some cases it may be acceptable to occasionally remove the retainer, but this will largely depend on the severity of the bite problem and the overall health of the patient's teeth. In most cases however, at some stage of the treatment the patient can move from full time wear to only having to wear the retainer at night.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »