How Orthodontists Use Retainers During and After TreatmentHow Orthodontists Use Retainers During and After Treatment

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How Orthodontists Use Retainers During and After Treatment

How Orthodontists Use Retainers During and After Treatment

Dr. Karen Conn of Bryn Mawr Orthodontics explains why retainers are an important part of creating and maintaining beautiful smiles.

By Dr. Karen Conn (Bryn Mawr Orthodontics) 

Let’s talk about retainers!  After wearing braces or Invisalign, you're finally ready to unveil your beautiful smile to the world.  But what happens next?  How do you keep your teeth in their new, perfect position?  The answer is: retainers.

Retainers are appliances that help keep the teeth in place.  There are two types of retainers: removable retainers and fixed retainers.

Removable retainers are the most common type of retainers.  These retainers can be removed to eat, drink, and clean your teeth.  An essix retainer is a clear and comfortable removable retainer option for patients that is similar to an Invisalign aligner.  Another common removable retainer is a hawley retainer.  A hawley retainer is the old school retainer that many of today’s parents once wore as kids.  They’re made from colorful acrylic and have stainless steel clasps to hold them in place. 

A fixed retainer is another popular retainer option that we sometimes recommend to a patient.  A fixed retainer is a wire that is placed on the back surface of your front teeth to hold them in place without disrupting the aesthetic appeal of your new smile!

Although retainers are usually known for their use after active orthodontic treatment, orthodontists may use retainers during orthodontic treatment and/or after orthodontic treatment.

During treatment, retainers can be used to help move teeth.  Sometimes orthodontists will incorporate a spring into a retainer to help move a front tooth.  Other times, orthodontists recommend a retainer to prevent an adult tooth from drifting into a space that is needed for another erupting tooth.  A retainer is an easy option that sometimes can be used to limit more-involved orthodontic care.

After treatment, retainers are fantastic at holding the teeth in their new positions.  Teeth have a natural tendency to move back to their original positions, so retainers help to prevent these movements from happening and maintain your new, healthy, and confident smile.  How long you need to wear a retainer will vary depending on your individual circumstances.  Your orthodontist will give you specific instructions on how long and how often you need to wear your retainer.  By following your orthodontist's instructions and taking care of your retainer, you can continue enjoying your custom, beautiful smile for years to come!


Karen Conn, DMD, MS is a Board-certified orthodontist and co-owner of Bryn Mawr Orthodontics (Bryn Mawr, PA), where she specializes in Invisalign and braces for children, teens and adults.  She has been recognized as a Philadelphia Magazine Top Dentist, Main Line Today Top Dentist, Suburban Family Top Orthodontist, and is among the nation’s top 1% of Invisalign providers.  Dr. Conn received her undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.  She completed her residency in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics at Temple University, where she also earned a master's degree in Oral Biology.

Bryn Mawr Orthodontics serves its neighbors in Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne, Villanova, Ardmore, Haverford, Wynnewood, Narberth, Radnor, Penn Valley, Bala Cynwyd, Merion, Wayne, and the entire Main Line.

To learn more about Bryn Mawr Orthodontics contact the office today (484-383-0055) or schedule a free consultation online.

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