Why do Some People Need Dental Retainers?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2018
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Dental retainers are a type of orthodontic apparatus that fit into the upper or lower part of the mouth and may or may not be removable. There are only a select few reasons why certain people may need to wear retainers, mostly because they need them as a reinforcement after having braces removed. In some cases, a person with minor orthodontic problems may be treated with a retainer instead of braces.

Most often, orthodontic patients who have worn braces to correct the alignment of their teeth are fitted for dental retainers after their braces are removed. A retainer helps reinforce the position of the teeth while the bones and gums adjust to the new alignment. They prevent the teeth from shifting, which can happen as the mouth continues to grow or until the muscles in the mouth and jaw and the gums adapt to the changes caused by the braces.

For minor orthodontic issues, such as an over- or under-bite, a dental retainer alone may be able to correct the problem if it's worn properly. Usually, when a patient is fitted for a dental retainer, he or she must wear it at all times for an initial period of time and then can revert to wearing it only at night. The actual instructions for its proper use vary from patient to patient and are based on the opinion the orthodontist after reviewing the dental x-rays and performing an examination.


Very minor dental problems can be corrected with dental retainers, but many dentists will only refer patients to an orthodontist if they are concerned with their cosmetic appearance. Providing that the problem does not interfere with normal tooth development and function, its correction is left up to the patient. In the case of post-braces care, a retainer is a necessary part of the treatment and is essential for long-term success.

Dental retainers are custom fitted appliances, usually made of molded plastic and wires. Only an orthodontist can fit a patient for one. Before doing the fitting, an orthodontist will discuss the probable success in correcting any problem with the patient, and instruct him or her on the proper use and care of the retainer.


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Post 10

How much do dental retainers cost? We don't have dental insurance and I have two kids with teeth that need some work.

The biggest thing I am worried about is they will lose or misplace their retainer. It will probably be a stretch for me just to get them fitted with a retainer, and I would be really frustrated if I had to replace them.

Does anybody have any tips on how to prevent this from happening? Do you have to remove the retainer each time you eat or can you leave them in your mouth all the time?

Post 9

My folks didn't have the money for me to get braces so I wore an orthodontic retainer for about 4 years.

For the most part I am happy with my teeth and feel good about my smile. I am glad the retainer worked, and it was a lot cheaper than paying for braces.

Post 8

When I had to wear a retainer it was a piece of silver metal that went all the way across my teeth. Now they have clear retainers that are even less noticeable.

What I liked least about wearing a retainer was taking it out every time I needed to eat something. It got pretty old taking it out and putting it back in all the time.

I had a friend who lost more than one retainer that way. He threw one of them away when he emptied his lunch tray. They aren't all that cheap, and his parents got pretty frustrated buying a new retainer every time he lost one.

Post 7

I wore a retainer for a couple of years after my braces were removed. It was exciting to finally have my braces off, and wearing the retainer was a whole lot better.

I could take it out if I was having my picture taken or for a special occasion. You can't do this when you have braces on your teeth.

After the first year of wearing my retainer, I only had to wear it at night, and that was even better yet. I was disciplined at wearing it,and it paid off because I still have nice, straight teeth today.

Post 6

if I have rabbit teeth, (teeth sticking out) do i need to wear a retainer?

Post 5

i wore braces for three years then am wearing a retainer now. Retainers have a plastic or acrylic under your palate or behind your teeth, which is nasty, and braces are just wires and brackets on your teeth.

If i had to choose, i would choose braces. It;s so hard to talk with a retainer and having to take it off and put it in just to eat is a hassle.

Post 4

i had my braces taken off about 5-6 years ago now. i wore retainers but now my molar teeth seem to be shifting, and well i've gotten a root canal on one of them. what do i do?

Post 3

A lot of orthodontist work for minor issues is really a sham. It feeds on insecurity while the reality is that people can lead perfectly normal lives without trying fix these minor "issues". Never never intended that unless our mouths are perfectly aligned (like some Robot) our quality of life will suffer, but the orthodontist industry is a multi billion dollar industry that thrives on insecurity.

Post 2

how long do you normally have to wear a fitted retainer? and does it affect the way you speak?

Post 1

i have over crowded teeth, but they don't really look crooked from either side, only when you look up at them. i'm in my early to mid teens and would much rather have a retainer. do you think that would be OK? because i am totally fine with wearing a wire over my teeth for two years than wearing ugly braces for one.

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