Adult Retainers: Should I Wear A Retainer As An Adult?

Adult Retainers

So, you’re finished with braces and ready to move on to the next stage of life.

But, we still have one more topic to cover—retainers. Keep reading to learn what to expect after the braces come off!

Adult Retainers: What You Need to Know

Everyone is eager to be done with braces. But the fact is that orthodontic retainers do as much work—if not more—than the braces themselves.

Many patients in our practice had braces as a teenager, stopped wearing their retainers some time after high school, and ended up getting orthodontic treatment a second time as an adult. 

Think of all the time and money wasted in having to go through the process a second time…

So, why do we need the retainers? After all, aren’t the braces supposed to do all the work?

Well, when braces are removed, teeth can and will try to shift back to their original position. They usually don’t make it ALL the way back…

…but without a retainer in place, you should expect some unwanted tooth movement and the potential for tooth and bite problems again in the future.

This is where the dedicated use of retainers come in—Orthodontic retainers act as a gentle but purposeful reminder to your teeth to stay straight for the long haul.

orthodontic retainers prevent shifting

How Long Do I Need to Wear a Retainer?

We tell all our patients, adults included, that they will want to use fixed or removable orthodontic retainers for as long as they want their teeth straight.

Obviously, if you’ve gone through the time and expense of braces, you’ll want to ensure your teeth stay in the correct position for life.

Years ago, orthodontists believed that once teeth were straightened, held in place with a retainer for a time, they would then simply stay that way forever. New scientific evidence says otherwise.

(And we’ve seen enough patients go through multiple treatments ourselves to know that this isn’t just theory or numbers.)

The fact is, you’re teeth are ALWAYS shifting and changing position — even if you never had braces. The combination of braces and retainers are the best solution known to modern science and technology towards keeping your teeth in proper alignment.

The Role of Adult Retainers

Teeth naturally shift and get crowded. Even those individuals who once had naturally straight teeth can end up with crowding at a later age.

So, orthodontic retainers are extremely important in maintaining the tooth and bite correction you achieve with braces.

Adult retainers can play a role in:

  • Preventing any crowding or misalignment of the teeth
  • Holding gaps closed that may have once been there
  • Maintaining bite correction
  • Preventing tooth grinding that may occur while you are asleep

What Type of Retainer Will I Have As An Adult?

Your orthodontist will decide on the best kind of retainer for you before it’s time for the braces to come off.

The starting position of your teeth and bite help determine this choice  and will aid the orthodontist in picking the retainer that will prevent your  tooth and bite problems from ever returning.

Adult retainers typically come in three forms: clear plastic retainers, a fixed or permanent retainer, or a hawley retainer.

Clear Plastic Adult Retainer

Many adults prefer retainers that are clear and nearly invisible. These types of clear plastic retainers most resemble an Invisalign aligner. Your orthodontist will decide if this type of retainer is the best suited to ensure long-term stability of your teeth and bite, or if another option would be more appropriate.

plastic retainer

A Fixed or Permanent Adult Retainer

If a fixed or permanent orthodontic adult retainer is the best choice, it would be typically placed on the inside/back surfaces of the lower front teeth.

A permanent retainer may be used indefinitely to ensure that your teeth remain corrected and you protect your investment.

fixed retainer

Worried about how you can perform daily functions, such as flossing, with a permanent retainer? Learn how to easily floss with a permanent orthodontic retainer by watching the video below.

Hawley Adult Retainer

One type of adult retainer that may be used today is called the Hawley retainer. It is made of plastic and metal combination and is custom designed for each patient. Generally speaking, adults who are prescribed this style of retainer will wear it solely at night-time.

hawley retainer

Adult retainers are an important part of your treatment plan. Many adults are getting braces for the second time—and a properly fitting, customized adult retainer will help to ensure that it is the last time orthodontic treatment will be needed.

There’s just one last thing we haven’t touched on…what actually goes on during an orthodontic consultation?

To find out exactly what we do during a consultation appointment, continue to Chapter 8.

Schedule a Free Adult Braces Consultation

You can schedule a 100% free consultation with Premier Orthodontics to find out:

At your initial exam and consultation you’ll discover:

  How long your braces treatment will take
  The type of braces that would work best
  How much the treatment will cost