Why is a Retainer Necessary After Braces?


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Dear Dr. Barakat,

Why do patients need to wear a retainer after getting braces off?


Dear Concerned Parent,

Orthodontists understand that it’s no fun to wear a retainer after having your braces removed. We get it, we really do! However, you’ve already spent months (or even years) wearing braces, so now your smile looks great, and you are definitely over the teeth straightening process!

The final step in your treatment is wearing your retainer according to your orthodontist’s instructions because after your braces are removed, your teeth will want to shift right back to their old position. It takes time for the tissue and bones around your teeth to heal correctly and help keep your teeth in their new position, and your retainer will prevent your teeth from shifting out of alignment. If you don’t wear your retainer, there is a possibility that your teeth will shift back, and you will have to wear braces again to realign them.

One more reason to wear your retainer according to instructions is that your jaw and teeth may shift as you get older. Shifting is part of the normal growth and aging process, and wearing your retainer will help keep your teeth aligned so that the shifting doesn’t affect your smile. In addition, having teeth extracted later on or repetitive habits such as grinding/clenching your teeth or chewing on hard objects (like pens, hard candy, etc.) may cause shifting that your retainer can help prevent.

Your orthodontist will give you guidelines about wearing your retainer. For example, you may have to wear it continuously for several months after your braces are removed, or you may only have to wear it at night for a few hours. Following those guidelines will help you keep the smile you worked so hard to achieve so you can keep showing it off!!


Dr. Rana Barakat, a board-certified specialist in Orthodontics, has been proudly serving Northern Virginia for more than 20-years! She has built her practice on a personal touch and excellent treatment.

As a parent, she understands wanting the best for your children by giving them beautiful, confident smiles. She makes it a priority to ensure optimal results, but also believes that each patient’s experience during treatment is just as important as the clinical result. As the 2015-16 President of the Virginia Association of Orthodontists, Dr. Barakat’s dedication and expertise reflect why her peers continue to nominate her as a Top Dentist.

Barakat Orthodontics is located at 45745 Nokes Blvd., Ste. 175, Sterling, VA 20166. Connect by visiting them online, or get social with them on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. Barakat Orthodontics can also be reached at (703) 433-9330.


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