Once your treatment with Invisalign® or braces is complete, it’s time to retain your smile! A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that ensures you achieve the greatest results from your orthodontic treatment. 

When you’re moving into the final phase of your treatment (the retention phase), Dr. Senties will tell you everything you need to know about wearing your retainer and caring for your retainer.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about the final stage of your orthodontic treatment.

What does a retainer do?

Your retainer holds your teeth in their final position to solidify your beautiful new smile. If you want to keep your smile for years to come, it’s crucial that you wear your retainer as instructed!

Your teeth are at an increased risk of “relapsing” or shifting back to their original pre-treatment position at the beginning of your retention phase. They’ve had the support of your braces or Invisalign clear aligners all throughout your treatment process, so once that support is gone, your teeth have the tendency to shift out of place.

Your retainer plays the key role of preventing orthodontic relapse and providing continued support for your new smile while your teeth, bone and gums stabilize after active treatment. 

Types of Retainers

There are two main types of retainerspermanent retainers (fixed retainers) and removable retainers

Fixed or Permanent Retainers

Permanent retainers are bonded (or cemented) to the teeth. These retainers include a small metal wire, custom-designed to fit behind the teeth. They’re generally bonded to the back surface of the bottom teeth, but can also be used behind the top teeth depending on your condition.

Typically, fixed retainers will remain in place for a lifetime to ensure that your teeth don’t shift out of alignment.

Removable Retainers

Removable retainers can be taken out of your mouth and placed back in as needed. The main types of removable retainers are Hawley retainers and Essix retainers. 

The Hawley retainer has metal wires with an acrylic center that sits in the roof of the mouth. An Essix retainer is similar to Invisalign; it’s a clear retainer made of plastic, custom-made to cover the front and back surfaces of the teeth.

No matter which type of retainer Dr. Senties recommends and you choose, wearing a retainer after braces or Invisalign is absolutely necessary! When you or your child’s treatment is coming to an end, Dr. Senties will explain the different types of retainers to help you make the best decision for your lifestyle.

How often do I wear my retainer?

Right after your braces or Invisalign treatment, you’ll be instructed to wear your retainer for 24 hours, through the day and night, and only take it out to eat and to brush and floss your teeth. After about 6 months, you’ll be able to reduce your wear to nights only!

We know 6 months sounds like a long time, but think of it this way—wearing your retainer is far more convenient than undergoing another orthodontic treatment! Wearing your retainer after braces or Invisalign will prevent your teeth from relapsing, so you can still love your smile 10 years from now.

Retainers Cost

Your retainer is a part of your orthodontic treatment plan, so it’s included in your affordable payment plan! There won’t be an additional fee for your retainer, unless you happen to damage it or lose it, then there will be a fee to replace it. 

At the end of your braces or Invisalign treatment, we’ll give you your custom-designed, removable retainer. As long as you keep your retainer in great shape, and you store it in your designated carrying case every time you take it out of your mouth, you shouldn’t have to worry about a retainer cost. In the event that you do damage your retainer or lose it, you will be responsible for a replacement fee.

Have questions about retainers?

We’re here to answer your questions, and we want you to know your options! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time. 

Dr. Senties and our experienced team are here to help guide you throughout your treatment process, from your first visit to your last visit. 

Ready to begin your smile transformation process? Let’s get started with your complimentary exam at our convenient San Antonio location!