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Need orthodontic retainer to keep your teeth in place?
What is Retention Phase?

When your orthodontist removes your braces, they will start working on the retention phase of your orthodontic treatment. At Archer Dental we take the retention phase of your orthodontic treatment very seriously.

Retention phase is the phase of orthodontic treatment during which the teeth need to maintain their orthodontically corrected positions. This is achieved with the use of various retainers, each type suitable for specific situation. Most common types of retainers are clear plastic retainer (Essex retainer), Howley retainer and fixed retainer. Orthodontic retainers hold teeth in their corrected place and resist the tendency of teeth to return to their original positions. Retention phase time is different and depends on many factors, but the minimum length of retention phase is at least 6 months. Your Archer Dental dentist will recommend how long and how often to wear your retainers.  Your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers, so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far.

What Causes Movement After Braces Are Off?

Teeth aren't set rigidly in the jawbone — on the contrary, they're held in place by a network of fibers called the periodontal ligaments. During retention phase the teeth need to be stabilized in their new place.

Additionally, living tissue is always undergoing processes of growth and change, even posture, habits and muscle pressure affect those processes.

Here are most important factors that can cause teeth movement after taking braces off:

  • eruption of new teeth

  • restoration work (fillings, root canals, crowns)

  • aging 

  • forces exerted by the lips and tongue

  • habits like biting your nails or chewing on pencils

  • facial muscle structure

  • amount of residual growth

  • abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth (malocclusion)


There are plenty of studies that indicate that growth occurs in small amounts throughout life. Therefore, some movement is normal and is expected and teeth and jaws can shift at any time in varying degrees.

Some dentists believe that unerupted wisdom teeth are can promote teeth movement, but the studies have not been consistent and tooth shifting has been observed in people with no wisdom teeth. However removal of wisdom teeth might be recommended if the patient doesn’t have adequate space in the mouth for normal eruption

Retainer After Braces. How To Achieve Lifetime Retention?

Our orthodontist at Archer Dental will recommend the best option for you to retain your teeth in place after all the hard work you did while wearing braces. The only way to make sure that your new smile remains aligned indefinitely is with professional guidance or lifetime retention. If you want lifetime retention (straight teeth forever) a clear plastic retainer should be worn 22 hours a day for first 6 months. Removed only to brush your teeth and eat. After that worn at night only.

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Types Of Retainers

There are three types of retainers commonly used today. Your orthodontist will recommend you a retainer that will work best for you. 

The most common style of retainer is the clear plastic retainer (clear overlay retainer or essix retainer). It looks similar to the Invisalign® tray system you might have heard about. These retainers are made of thin, transparent plastic which is designed to fit closely over your teeth. The main advantage of these retainers is that they’re clear, and therefore invisible. They are also easily to removed, but they are considered less durable than the next type of retainers, called Hawley retainers.

Hawley retainer is a thin, semi-clear piece of acrylic shaped to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds your teeth in position. The Hawley retainer is simple, durable and easily removed. It can also be adjusted to correct minor tooth movements.

Another option for some people are fixed retainers. They are commonly placed on the lower front teeth. Fixed retainers consist of a thin wire, which is bonded with the cement to the tongue part of the front teeth. It may remain in place for months, years or even decades. The biggest drawback of this type of retainer is accessibility when using the floss. Because the wire stretches across multiple teeth, a floss threader should be used to access the spaces between the teeth. Other the fact that this retainer required a little more work to keep clean, it has the best outcome because the bonded wire will hold the newly straightened teeth in perfect formation 24/7.

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