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Retainers - What is a Retainer?

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Updated: June 7, 2007

Retainers - What is a Retainer?

Lower Retainer

Photo ŠTammy Davenport

Question: Retainers - What is a Retainer?

Answer:

A retainer is an orthodontic appliance (usually removable) that is supposed to be worn after your orthodontist removes your braces. When braces are removed, the teeth have a tendency to want to return back to their original positions. Retainers prevent this from happening.

Most upper retainers are made of wire and hard plastic and fit in the roof of your mouth. A lower retainer can be removable or permanently cemented to the lower teeth so that it doesn’t come out.

During the first several months, retainers are usually worn full time. After that, your orthodontist will decide how often they should be worn.

When your braces come off, it is very tempting not to wear your retainers. To keep your teeth from shifting and avoiding having to wear braces again, it is crucial to wear your retainers as often as your orthodontist tells you.

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