Continuing to Improve Your Smile With Retainers

October 12, 2017
Carly A. Moran, DDS, MS

Continuing to Improve Your Smile With Retainers

During the Retainer Phase — also known as The Retention Phase — we remove your dental braces and any other orthodontic devices used to correctly align your teeth. At that point, you’ll be free of bands and brackets or any Invisalign attachments. You can eat whatever you want and enjoy the feeling of smooth, clean teeth.

However, keep in mind that you aren’t quite done with your orthodontic treatment yet.

Next up, our orthodontic team will create a custom retainer — typically the day you get your appliances removed — that will continue to straighten your teeth, improve your smile, and ensure that your teeth don’t shift back to their original positions. Here’s what to expect during the retainer phase:

Three Types of Retainers

The most common type of retainer is called the “Hawley” (or loop) retainer — a thin, tongue-shaped piece molded to fit your mouth, using a wire to hold your teeth in position. This type of retainer is simple, durable and can be easily taken out and put back in, making it a removable aligner.

Your Heart Says Thank you for Your Healthy, Straight Teeth

Another popular style is a clear style (or “hard cast”) similar to transparent braces or Invisalign removable aligners. These retainers are custom-made of thin plastic. The main advantage of this style is that they are invisible and easy to remove. However, in cases where an expander or a quad was required, they do not hold the newly gained width as effectively as a loop retainer.

The last option is a fixed retainer, which is a popular choice for the lower teeth. These retainers are not removable, but they are also not visible. A wire is bonded to the backside of the lower canine teeth and may remain in your mouth indefinitely. We recommend this type of retainer when you have a high risk of your teeth reverting back to their pre-braces position.

Adjusting to Your Retainer

Retainers are very easy to adjust to, and you won’t even notice them after a couple of weeks. It may be a little harder to talk at first, but that shouldn’t last long. The hardest part will be to remember to take your retainers out when eating or brushing your teeth – but then putting them back in as soon as you’re done. We have had many patients call us because they accidentally threw away their retainer in a napkin after lunch.

Initially, we recommend wearing your retainer 24/7 for the first ten weeks. After that period of time, we typically transition you into only wearing your retainer at night. If you decrease the frequency in which you wear your retainer, and you feel a tightness when you put it back in, that’s a sign that you waited too long to wear the retainer again. Increase your frequency and see if that feels better. If you’re wearing your retainer every night and still feeling a tightness, give us a call.

Caring for Your Retainer

All retainers need proper cleaning. You can use a toothbrush to clean your retainer, but we recommend using special retainer cleaner (or denture cleaner). Fixed retainers should be cleaned while brushing and flossing. Also, we don’t recommend exposing your retainer to high heat by washing it in hot water, as it could cause the retainer to warp into a new shape.

And lastly, always remember to bring your retainer with you to your orthodontist appointments. Proper use of a retainer will help make the transition from braces to a straighter smile much easier!

As always, give us a call if you have any questions about the retainer phase of your orthodontic treatment. We’ll do anything we can to help you get a straighter smile.


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  • review rating 5  I just started my first week with the Invisalign. The staff has been extremely friendly and helpful through every step. Dr Carly’s initial evaluation of my case was extremely thorough and the options were explained in detail to help make an informed decision. They’ve certainly exceeded my expectation and from the looks of it, they do a great job with their younger patients as well!

    thumb Patrick May

    review rating 5  Amazing office! My daughter was home from college and had an orthodontic emergency. She was not a previous patient. Dr Moran was kind enough to see her. The entire staff was amazing. I would never go anywhere else!

    thumb Sharon Hoover

    review rating 5  Amazing experience they all made my daughter and I feel very comfortable, all the ladies were extremely nice. Very well informed. Wouldn't go anywhere else!

    thumb Erica Wood

    review rating 5  Amazing experience all around. The staff is super friendly and Dr. Carly always makes my daughter feel comfortable with the work being done. We are thrilled with the progress we are seeing, and the customer service is always top notch.

    thumb Alyssa Lozier
  • review rating 5  We were very pleased with the staff and services at Gorman & Bunch. From the beginning, they were very friendly and made us feel comfortable with our first ortho visit. Dr. Carly was very nice and attentive. We ended up with braces for my son on the first visit and they were quick and thorough and made our experience very positive. Definitely would recommend them! They are awesome!

    thumb Donia Shackelford

    review rating 5  Personal and professional, everyone always takes great care of my sensitive mouth teen! This is our first experience with needing orthodontia, when it’s time for my youngest to get braces, we’ll choose this place again in a heartbeat. From the team up front to the team in the back, everyone is so nice and yet so efficiently on task, it is quite impressive. They have reasonable pricing and are willing to help with a payment plan. Keep up the great work!!

    thumb Robert Cassidy

    review rating 5  Fantastic staff who put the person (and their teeth!) at the center of the experience. Child-friendly waiting areas. I've had nothing but good experiences over my nearly 10 years with Gorman and Bunch. Cannot recommend highly enough!

    thumb Pete Freeman

    review rating 5  Love this office! Helpful, professional, and knowledgeable doctor and staff. Haven’t had 1 issue with them. They’ve got their routine down pat.

    thumb Courtney Amos
  • review rating 5  This 64 year old had teeth that had begun to overlap in my adult years, which was attributed to having 4 good teeth removed as a child for "Crowded teeth". I waited to fund Invisalign until incurring no penalty for taking IRA funds, other than taxes. I was fortunate to be referred to Dr. Jason Bunch by my dentist, Dr. Jack Nicewander. Dr. Bunch and his Carmel, IN office staff see numerous children and young adults, but welcome the young at heart as well. I trust them and find them accommodating, efficient, professional and compassionate.

    thumb Joyce Eggleston

    review rating 5  Cannot say enough good things about this practice! I've been to Westfield and Carmel locations, both are beautiful with helpful and friendly staff. Dr Bunch is experienced, knowledgeable, and truly cares about his patients and strives to get the best results possible for each one!

    thumb Karen Caudle

    review rating 5  Heather and Dr Carly were awesome! Friendly, informative, and professional. Office was very inviting. We had a great appointment and look forward to the next couple of years of working with them.

    thumb Andy Tebbe

    review rating 5  Excellent every time we’ve brought our kids. Thorough evaluations, knowledgeable doctors/staff, great with kids, and great results

    thumb Stephanie
  • review rating 5  Very great place! Went there for my first time today and i felt so comfortable and they are helping me fix my mouth!! Love love love!

    thumb Haley Elston

    review rating 5  I love this office. The staff and Dr. Carly are great. I’m having amazing results with my program! I highly suggest it to any and everyone!

    thumb Mark Roberts

    review rating 5  I can’t say enough great things about this office. I am legal guardian of my sister and she is going through Invisalign with them… She’s almost done and I am amazed by the results. I also go there for continued orthodontic care because orthodontic retention is for life! So glad I have such great people to care for our teeth!!!

    thumb Veronica Boyle