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Your Guide to Wearing a Retainer

Because braces and Invisalign require a significant financial investment, and because the end results typically look so fantastic, it doesn’t take much to motivate people to wear their Invisalign trays as often as they should. Most of our patients here at Clearsmile Orthodontics desire a straighter, more aesthetically-pleasing smile, and they understand that wearing the trays is essential for that.

Significantly more challenging, for whatever reason, is getting people to wear their retainers regularly. Many patients see the teeth-straightening process as “done” once the braces come off or their Invisalign treatment is completed, but that is simply not the case. Retainers are another key aspect to any patient’s orthodontic treatment.

The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer Regularly

The biggest reason retainers are so essential is because of something called post-treatment shifting, which is your teeth’s natural tendency to move back toward their original positions from before treatment. The longer teeth stay in place, the less common this is, and retainers are designed to help with the transition away from braces. This process usually takes around 18 months.

There also is longer-term shifting that can occur without a retainer. It is slower and more gradual, but teeth will shift with age no matter how good your orthodontic treatment was, and retainers can minimize that long-term movement.

Types of Retainers

Depending on the type of orthodontic treatment, retainers can either be either removable or fixed in place, and there are typically three types:


These are the most traditional and are made from wire and acrylic. They are adjustable and can be produced in a number of different colors and styles.


Clear retainers have taken over as the most common form of retainer. An Invisalign retainer is made from molded clear plastic that fits over your teeth. They are increasingly popular with patients of all ages because they are less conspicuous. Since they are a perfect mold of your teeth, they also provide better retention.

Bonded Retainer

These are also known as permanent retainers. These retainers are bonded to the teeth with special adhesive and stay in 24/7. These are the best type for perfect retention because they do not depend on patients remembering to wear them or being compliant.

Bonded retainers and Clear retainers are included in treatment at Clearsmile.

Taking Care of Your Retainer

Just as there are certain care and maintenance items for people with braces or Invisalign, there also are some things to keep in mind when caring for your retainer on a daily basis.

Keeping a retainer clean is imperative because it can pick up all kinds of bacteria from the leftover food particles that make their way into your device’s various crevices. These also can pick up plaque from your teeth, which means it won’t matter how well you brush if you forget to clean off a retainer filled with plaque, bacteria, and small food particles.

Throughout the day, it is best to rinse the aligner with warm water, but every orthodontist here at Clearsmile Orthodontics also will recommend doing a more thorough cleaning at night, preferably with a toothbrush and a paste made from equal parts baking soda and water. Gently scrubbing the retainer will help rid it of whatever nasty stuff it has acquired throughout the day.

Your Local Charlotte Invisalign Provider

There are many reasons a patient may have a need to wear a retainer, and while they can feel like a hassle for some people, they are an important step in the orthodontic process. If you value the straight, gorgeous smile you spent so much time and money acquiring, wearing that retainer and caring for it properly are essential for the long-term health and aesthetics of your teeth.