Health and Fitness

What are teeth straightening retainers?

Teeth retainers are removable dental devices that fit over a person’s upper or lower teeth. They keep teeth in their correct alignment. People often use these as a follow-up to braces.

After teeth straightening treatments, such as braces, a person’s teeth need to be kept in place. A dentist or orthodontist may suggest wearing a retainer to achieve this.

Teeth retainers play an essential role in keeping teeth straight and healthy long-term. They maintain the position of teeth after orthodontic treatment and allow the bone holding the person’s teeth in place to heal.

Read on to learn more about why people use retainers, how to use them, and how to care for them.


Teeth straightening
Teeth straightening

What are retainers?

A retainer is a custom dental device that is molded to the shape of a person’s mouth. Orthodontists prescribe retailers trusted Source following dental treatments that move a person’s teeth, such as braces.

Without using a retainer, a person’s teeth can shift back to their previous alignment.

An orthodontist may prescribe one of the following types of retainers:

  • Permanent retainers: These are bonded to the teeth, so an individual cannot remove them. People may prefer these retainers because they are unnoticeable, but they may be uncomfortable.
  • Hawley retainers: These retainers are made of wire attached to plastic (or acrylic) that is molded to a person’s mouth. Because they are removable, they are convenient and easy to clean.
  • Clear retainers: These are custom retainers made using an exact replica of the person’s teeth. They are virtually invisible, making them a popular choice.

Who wears teeth retainers, and why?

People who have had their teeth aligned with braces use retainers. They are typically the final phase of orthodontic teeth straightening procedures and ensure that teeth stay in their new position.

Although some people may believe that orthodontic work is complete when braces come off, wearing retainers for the prescribed amount of time is essential. Not following the guidance of one’s dentist or orthodontist could undo the work of their braces.

Once a person has a retainer, they will regularly return to their orthodontist for checkups. The orthodontist will make any necessary adjustments, such as bending or trimming wires for comfort.

Duration of use

The length of time a person wears a retainer depends on their specific course of treatment.

Sometimes, an orthodontist will attach a permanent retainer to a person’s teeth. They may leave this in place indefinitely, or they may replace it with a removable retainer after a period of time.

Alternatively, they may decide to give a person a removable retainer. According to the Canadian Association of Orthodontists, they may suggest that an individual wears that removable retainer almost 24 hours per day for the first 4–6 months.

However, many orthodontists recommend that people wear their removable retainer at all times for at least 9 months, according to one 2010 survey.

Following the initial period of constant war, a person may use their retainer only at night.

A person’s dentist or orthodontist will tell them how long to wear their retainer. This will likely be for 12 months or longer.


It is important to always follow the advice of one’s dentist or orthodontist. If a person has any problems with their retainer, they should contact them right away.

People should take the following precautions to ensure effective use of their retainers:

  • Wear the retainers as the orthodontist directs.
  • Do not chew gum while wearing the retainers, and do not chew on the retainers.
  • Be careful while removing the retainers from the mouth. Use both index fingers at the gumline to do so.
  • Keep the retainers in their specific case.
  • Consult a dentist or orthodontist if the retainers become uncomfortable.

How To Straighten Teeth: Three Proven Methods

A beautiful smile not only boosts self-confidence, but it can impact the overall quality of life an individual has. Unfortunately, not everyone is born with a perfect smile, but that doesn’t mean that it is out of reach. Everyone knows how to straighten teeth at the most basic level: metal braces. But now there are more options than ever when considering cosmetic dentistry.

Metal braces

And, of course, there are metal braces. Braces are the most popular answer received when asked how to straighten teeth. They typically consist of four parts: brackets, bonding material, arch wire and ligature elastic. These units work together to exert pressure on the teeth in a specific direction. Over time, the teeth shift into their proper positions. Unlike the Invisalign option, metal braces have a series of metal brackets and wires that are clearly visible on the teeth. They are a less cosmetically appealing option but are often times considerably cheaper than other methods of teeth straightening. Patients can expect to wear braces for an average of two years, but this number will differ depending on the recommendations prescribed by the dentist.

What Is Teeth Straightening Surgery and Is It Right For Me?

Surgery to straighten your teeth may seem extreme, but there are benefits to including dental surgery as part of your accelerated orthodontic treatment. While typically you can’t escape wearing braces totally, with the surgery you will only have to wear them for a shorter period of time.

Teeth-straightening surgery works best for people with an overbite or underbite or jaw misalignment. If you only have a couple of crooked teeth surgery really isn’t necessary to get the results you are looking for.

What Does the Surgery Involve?

The surgery requires only local anesthesia and involves repositioning the gums and bones which hold the teeth in place. While it is a minor surgery, it is still surgery so there is always a slight risk of complications, including pain, swelling, bleeding and infection.

Will I Still Need to Wear Braces?

In most cases, the surgery is just one stage of treatment and you might need to wear braces after and sometimes before, but it is usually less time than when you just do braces.

What is Orthognathic Surgery?

If your crooked teeth result from misalignment of your jaw, your dentist might suggest corrective jaw surgery which will fix any skeletal deformities to realign your jaw. This surgery must be done in a hospital setting by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and typically involves surgical plates or screws and wires.

You may need to stay in the hospital for a couple of days to be monitored and then recovery at home for about 6 weeks. As with any surgery, there are risks for infection and complications.

This surgery focuses on correcting functional problems like trouble speaking or chewing and sleep apnea. Patients who also experience a lot of headaches and joint paint from the misalignment of your jaw are also good candidates. If you have a protruding or extruding chin, you could also benefit from this type of surgery.

How Expensive Is Teeth-straightening Surgery?

If you need orthognathic surgery then most insurance policies will at least cover part of the cost. However, if you are just getting teeth-straightening surgery to accelerate the process of wearing braces, the cost will have to be out of pocket. Tall to your orthodontist about what types of payment options are available for you.

Do I Have Other Options?

There are other accelerated orthodontic treatment options as well. AcceleDent is an FDA-cleared medical device that you can use at home to stimulate the bone remodeling needed to properly align your teeth. The SoftPulse technology used in the device allows a consistent gentle pressure to be applied to the teeth. This pressure in conjunction with the pressure being asserted by the braces allows the repositioning of teeth to happen more quickly. Most patients see results after using it for just 20 minutes a day. You can cut your treatment length almost in half with this device.

How does it work: You insert the mouthpiece attached to the lightweight device around your braces or aligners. AcceleDent also contains a usage indicator that tracks how many sessions and how many minutes per session you have worn the device. This data can also easily be shared with your orthodontist. This device is only available by prescription from your orthodontist.

Propel Chairside Excellator is another accelerated orthodontic treatment option. This one has to be done in the orthodontist’s office though. Sometimes your doctor can use it during your normal orthodontic appointments, but that is not always the case. Ask him or her if you need to set up a separate appointment to take advantage of this treatment. The Propel system also accelerates bone metabolism and shortens the duration of treatment.

Bottom Line…

If you are really serious about cutting down the time you have to wear braces, you’re the best bet is to consult with a couple of orthodontists even before you choose the type of braces you will wear. Let them know your time constraints and talk to them about the pros and cons of Invisalign aligners vs. metal braces. Then ask them their opinion on accelerated orthodontics techniques and what they think would be best for your situation. Discuss if there are any risks with using any of these techniques. This way your orthodontic plan right from the start is geared to a fast, but safe and effective approach.

Whatever you do though, don’t try to move your teeth on your own. Don’t let your impatience to be done with treatment push you into something you might regret later. With homemade remedies and DIY approaches, you have no real guidance or safety net. There is no one telling you that you are doing right or wrong. It is much better to use an orthodontic-approved approach and have what you are doing monitored by the orthodontist. Why risk causing damage to your teeth and delaying your treatment instead of accelerating it?

Luckily, just making sure that you follow your orthodontist’s instructions exactly can also accelerate the treatment process.

By not taking proper care of your braces and teeth, you could be adding time to treatment instead of shortening it. For example, eating hard candy could damage the brackets, and not cleaning your teeth properly could lead to cavities and other complications.

Make sure you wear the elastics your orthodontist might give you and don’t skip out on any of your appointments. If there are long gaps between your appointments, it could delay your treatment tremendously. Wear an orthodontic mouthguard while playing sports to protect against bent wires and busted brackets as well as damaged teeth and try to cut up your food into bite-sized pieces to avoid any damage from the food you are eating.

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