Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Maintaining Your Newly Aligned Smile: Your Complete Guide to the Phases of Retainer Wear

Orthodontic treatment offers plenty of benefits for your smile and your oral and overall health. But it’s also a big commitment — and once your braces come off, you want to be sure you do all you can to maintain your beautiful results.

Wearing a retainer is part of that process. Retainers “lock in” your results, stabilizing your teeth and tooth roots so you can enjoy your beautiful smile indefinitely.

At Freedom Orthodontics, Brendan Smith, DDS, MS, helps patients in Cedar Park, Texas, understand the critical importance of retainer wear so you can fully reap the rewards of your treatment. Here, learn why wearing your retainers is important and how your routine can change over time.

The important role of your retainers

The role of your retainers is right in its name: It’s designed to help your teeth retain their new positions. 

When you wear braces or aligners, your teeth are constantly shifting, all the way down to their roots. It’s these continual movements that help your teeth achieve alignment over time. 

Once your braces come off or your aligner treatment is completed, your tooth roots can still be adjusting, which means it’s easier for them to shift out of their new positions. Retainers offer added support to keep your teeth in their new positions so your new smile is maintained.

3 phases of retainer wear

While your retainers can help maintain your smile for a lifetime, the way you wear them will change over time. 

Phase 1

Immediately after your braces are removed or you complete your treatment with clear aligners, your retainers help hold your teeth in their new positions while your tooth roots stabilize.

During this initial phase, you’ll wear your retainers all day and all night, removing them only for meals and brushing. In this phase, your retainers serve the same purpose as your braces or aligners, giving your teeth the added support they need to “lock in” alignment.

Phase 2

Once the initial phase is complete, most people move to nighttime retainer wear. In this phase, you wear your retainers only while you sleep. You wear them every night without skipping a night, typically keeping them off during the day. These initial phases usually last a few months, but the specific amount of time for each phase varies from one person to another.

Maintenance phase

After the second phase, you’ll use your retainers to maintain your results over time. Often, that means wearing your retainers for just a few nights a week. Dr. Smith prescribes a schedule based on your unique needs and factors specific to you, including your bite pattern.

Long-term wear is important to counteract the force that’s exerted on your teeth every time you bite or chew. These forces can gradually cause your teeth to shift out of position. 

Wearing your retainers intermittently helps keep your teeth properly aligned despite those forces, preserving your beautiful, healthy smile, and helping prevent bite-related problems like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

Improve your smile, improve your health

There’s no doubt orthodontic treatment can improve your smile, and by aligning your bite, it can improve your overall wellness too. Retainer wear is an important part of that process, and following your individual treatment plan is essential for reaping all the benefits of treatment.

To learn more about orthodontic treatment, call Freedom Orthodontics or book an appointment online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

A Comprehensive List of Foods to Avoid with Braces

A Comprehensive List of Foods to Avoid with Braces

Braces offer lots of benefits for your smile and your oral health, but to get the most benefits — and to keep your treatment on track — you need to watch what you eat. Here are some common foods you should probably avoid during treatment.
Do You Recommend Invisalign for My Teen?

Do You Recommend Invisalign for My Teen?

Invisalign® is a popular option for teens who don’t want to deal with traditional metal braces. But while Invisalign offers plenty of benefits, it’s not always the right choice. Here’s how to tell if Invisalign is appropriate for your teen.
4 Benefits of Digital Impressions

4 Benefits of Digital Impressions

Dental impressions play an important role in orthodontic treatment, and for years that meant having a mouthful of sticky goo. Digital impressions have changed all that — and they offer plenty of other benefits too.
Why Do I Need a Retainer Once My Teeth Are Straight?

Why Do I Need a Retainer Once My Teeth Are Straight?

Once your braces are off, it’s natural to want to be done with orthodontic treatment as soon as possible. But a retainer is a necessary part of treatment, and it plays a very important role in maintaining your beautiful new smile.