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

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

Even though orthodontic treatment offers loads of benefits, it’s safe to say that most patients can’t wait for treatment to be over so they can start enjoying their beautiful results. But just because your braces come off doesn’t mean your treatment has ended. You still need to wear a retainer.

A leading orthodontist in Cedar Park, Texas, Brendan Smith, DDS, MS, offers comprehensive orthodontic treatment at Freedom Orthodontics, and that includes state-of-the-art retainers. In this post, learn why wearing your retainer as directed is a very important part of your care.

The important role of your retainer

There are two primary reasons wearing a retainer is important for your new smile. One is to stabilize your teeth in their new positions, and the other is to prevent undoing all your hard work.


During the active part of orthodontic treatment, your appliances are hard at work moving your teeth into their new positions. While you can only see the part of your tooth that’s above your gum, orthodontics moves your whole tooth, including the root. 

Every time the root moves, the bone around it needs to reform to the contours of the root, a process that understandably takes time. Once your teeth are straight and the main part of your treatment ends, the bone reformation is still taking place. In fact, that bone remodeling process can take place for months after you stop wearing braces.

Wearing a retainer helps hold your teeth in their new positions while giving your underlying jawbone a chance to form and harden around your roots. You can think of your retainer as a little added support for your tooth roots, helping them stay in position until your bone has a chance to completely harden around them.


A second important reason to wear a retainer is to prevent your teeth from moving back to their old positions. Without a retainer to hold your teeth in their new spaces, they can quickly drift back to their original positions, which means all your hard work and effort will be undone.

Some of that “relapse” is due to the bone remodeling that’s taking place. Until the bone surrounding your roots has hardened, your roots — and your entire tooth — can start to move backward toward their earlier position. Wearing a retainer prevents that from happening.

Bone remodeling is just one reason your teeth can drift out of their new positions. Grinding habits, your natural jaw shape, and other factors can contribute to drift too. By wearing your retainer exactly as directed, you can counteract these forces and keep your smile looking its absolute best.

Straight teeth don’t just look great — they’re also easier to care for, which is why orthodontic treatment can help you avoid oral health problems in the future. Wearing your retainer maintains those results so you can enjoy the benefits of your treatment for the rest of your life.

You have questions, we have answers

Orthodontic treatment is an investment in a lifetime of beautiful smiles and better oral health. To learn more about retainers or any phase of treatment, call Freedom Orthodontics or book an appointment online today.

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