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Do I Need to Wear Retainers Forever?

Let’s talk about retainers! Yes, it’s time to make retainers a part of your forever plan.

You know, you must wear them for as long as you’d like to keep your teeth straight!

Here’s the deal – we’ll never advise you to stop wearing your retainers completely. We know it sounds like an eternity, but once wearing them becomes second nature you won’t even give them another thought.

Retainers come in two types, fixed or removable. They feature wires or plastic to maintain the finished result of active Orthodontic treatment and keep your smile looking fab!

What is a removable retainer?

The two most popular types of removable retainers are Essix and Hawley.

Essix is a transparent plastic retainer that is comfortable to wear and easy to clean, unlike many wire retainers.

Hawley, the more traditional style retainer, is durable, repairable, and doesn’t interfere with your bite.

At dentalbox, we will make sure that your Essix retainer is vacuum-moulded to fit the unique shape of your mouth. We recommend Essix for most of our patients, but some may need a Hawley retainer instead.

Remember, over time, and with fixed bonded retainers, you may wear your removable retainers less often. However, we will never advise you to stop wearing your retainers altogether. Keep smiling!

What is a fixed bonded retainer?

A fixed bonded retainer is typically made of a thin, metal wire that is custom-fitted and bonded, and permanently attached to the back surfaces of the front teeth.

The wire is bonded using a dental adhesive, making it virtually invisible from the front, and provides passive reinforcement to keep the teeth aligned.

The decision to use a fixed bonded is made by the Orthodontist based on the individual’s specific needs and treatment goals. They will consider factors such as the initial condition of the teeth, your bite, the extent of Orthodontic treatment, and the your oral hygiene habits.

What is Orthodontic relapse?

Orthodontic treatment involves restructuring the bone surrounding your teeth to achieve proper alignment. This process primarily relies on the application of pressure through braces, which induces tooth movement and triggers bone remodeling.

When Orthodontic pressure is exerted, the surrounding bone undergoes changes and gradually adapts to the new tooth positions.

Initially, the remodeled bone is ‘spongey’, but over time it solidifies and becomes more stable.

However, it’s important to note that once the active brace treatment is completed and the Orthodontic pressure is released, there is a natural tendency for teeth to revert to their original positions until the remodeled bone fully secures them in their new alignment.

When teeth revert to their original positions following Orthodontic treatment, this is commonly referred to as Orthodontic relapse.

Maintaining proper retention is crucial after completing active Orthodontic treatment if you desire to retain straight teeth in the long term.

In the past, it was commonly believed that wearing retainers for about 12 months would be sufficient to “set” the teeth in their newly aligned position.

However, advancements in research and experience have shown us that teeth have the potential to relapse indefinitely.

Even when your teeth have seemingly settled into their permanent positions, factors such as chewing, growth, and daily wear can gradually lead to relapse over time.

Therefore, it is essential to recognise that retention measures should be followed consistently to prevent any undesired changes and maintain the results achieved through Orthodontic treatment.

The vital role of retainers

Retainers are an indispensable part of your Orthodontic treatment. You should treat your retainers with the same level of importance as your braces, as they work together to protect the investment you made in your Orthodontic treatment.

They serve the crucial function of maintaining your teeth in their finished, aligned positions.

Neglecting to wear retainers as prescribed can lead to Orthodontic relapse.

Without regular retention, teeth may start to shift back toward their original misaligned positions, potentially requiring retreatment. Consistent wear is key to preserving your newly aligned smile.

To ensure long-term teeth alignment, it is important to follow your recommended retention guidelines.

Initially, removable retainers should be worn every night for the first year, even if you have fixed bonded retainers, gradually transitioning to 2-3 nights per week as advised during your reviews.

Remember, you should wear your retainers for as long as you want straight teeth!

Proper care and maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of your retainers are crucial for their effectiveness and longevity.

  • Clean your removable retainers daily with a toothbrush and water, avoiding toothpaste as it can discolor them.
  • Refrain from washing retainers in boiling water and opt for a specialized retainer cleaner to freshen them up.
  • You should never eat or drink when you are wearing your removable retainer.
  • Fixed retainers encourage the accumulation of food and plaque, so they require diligent daily cleaning and regular check-ups with your dentist or Orthodontist.
  • Address any damage or breakage promptly to ensure your retainer continues to function effectively.


At dentalbox, we provide exceptional post-treatment aftercare. Our commitment extends to supporting you for a period of 2 years following your active Orthodontic treatment.

During this time, we schedule regular retention reviews to ensure the effectiveness of your treatment and address any concerns you may have.

Our retention review appointments are scheduled at specific intervals: 3 months, 6 months, 15 months, and 24 months. These reviews serve several important purposes.

Firstly, we assess whether you are consistently wearing your retainers, we also evaluate the fit of your retainers to ensure they are still providing the necessary support and alignment. If any adjustments or replacements are required, our team will promptly address them to ensure optimal effectiveness.

If you have any concerns or if there are aspects you would like to further improve, our knowledgeable staff will be there to provide guidance and address any issues.

As part of our comprehensive aftercare, we also provide personalised advice on when you can gradually reduce the wear of your retainers. This guidance is tailored to your specific Orthodontic needs and progress, ensuring that you transition smoothly while maintaining the desired outcome.

For our fixed bonded retainers, we provide free repairs for a period of 1 year. This means that if there are any issues or damages to your fixed retainer within the first year of its placement, our experienced team will address and repair it at no additional cost to you.

Similarly, our removable retainers come with a 1-year warranty. This warranty provides coverage for any manufacturing defects or issues that may arise with your removable retainer within the first year of use. If you encounter any problems during this period, we will gladly replace or repair your removable retainer to ensure it continues to serve its purpose effectively.

In conclusion, wearing retainers after completing Orthodontic treatment is paramount to maintaining the beautiful smile you’ve achieved.

By following the recommended wear guidelines, taking care of your retainers, and understanding the potential consequences of neglecting retention, you can ensure that your investment in Orthodontic treatment continues to pay off in the long run.

Embrace your retainers as the guardians of your straight smile, and enjoy the lasting benefits of a confident, well-aligned set of teeth.

If you have any additional questions, please contact us on 01892 254 879 or One of our friendly team will be happy to discuss your post Orthodontic retention in further detail.