Retainers are designed to provide ongoing support for teeth once braces are removed so teeth remain stable and in their proper positions. For most patients, it can take over a year for tooth roots to become fully adjusted to their new positions; retainers provide the support needed to prevent teeth from moving out of alignment during this critical phase.
Yes, retainers are custom-made for each patient to provide a very comfortable fit and a discreet appearance while being worn.
That depends on the issue that's being treated, the patient's anatomy and other factors. In most cases, retainers are worn most frequently right after braces are removed. Over time, retainers can be worn less often once teeth have become well established in their new positions. Some patients may need to wear their retainers only during sleep or for just a few hours each day to keep their teeth in proper alignment.
Orthodontic treatment moves the teeth into different positions, and that has an influence over the patient's bite mechanics, tooth wear patterns, and the pressures exerted when chewing. Retainers provide support while the teeth and jaw adapt to these changes, enabling teeth to develop greater stability in their new locations. Most patients wear their retainers on a regular basis for a year or more following treatment to enable their teeth and their bite pattern to normalize. Many patients use retainers to provide ongoing support that ensures their smiles look great for years to come. Wearing a retainer is especially important for younger patients whose facial bones are still growing and developing.
Yes. While many people equate orthodontic treatment with wearing braces, that's just the first “phase” of treatment. Retainers are worn during the second “phase,” providing critical support necessary to maintain results so patients can enjoy more beautiful smiles for the rest of their lives.