The Function of Retainers After Braces


<< More From Barakat Orthodontics




Dear Dr. Barakat,

What is the function of a retainer after braces? I thought once I got my braces off, I was done. Why do I have to wear one?


Dear Concerned Parent,

Orthodontists understand that it can be frustrating to wear a retainer after having your braces removed. We get it, we really do! But there are several good reasons to wear your retainer, and it’s important to follow your orthodontist’s guidelines so that you can keep your smile ready to show off!

Your smile looks great, you’ve spent months (or sometimes years) wearing braces, and you are definitely ready to have the teeth straightening process be over. Wearing your retainer according to your orthodontist’s recommendations is the final stage in that process. There are several reasons for this:

After your braces are removed, your teeth will want to shift right back to their old position. It will take time for the tissue and bones around your teeth to heal correctly and help keep your teeth in their new position. 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 re-align them.

Another reason to wear your retainer according to directions is that your jaw and teeth may shift as you get older. There are several reasons this might occur. 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. Also, having teeth extracted or habits such as grinding and clenching your teeth, 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. You may have to wear it continuously for several months after your braces are removed, or you may have to wear it only at night for a few hours. Following those guidelines now will help you keep the smile you worked so hard to achieve, and you will stay ready to show 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.


Tags assigned to this article:
Advice: Barakat Orthodonticslinkscheckedproofed

Related Articles

Under the Care of an Orthodontist, Do I Still Need to See a Dentist?

This is a frequently asked question that arises among many orthodontic patients…

Get to Know Invisalign First

Invisalign First is a treatment offered by Barakat Orthodontics that can improve a young child’s smile — even those ages 6-10 that still have baby teeth…

Have Braces, But Love Popcorn?

Is it okay to *sometimes* indulge in a little popcorn with braces…

Dental Plaque + Your Braces = A Big Problem

By getting braces and making an investment in your smile, you are making an investment in yourself…

Orthodontic Options for Adults

While teeth won’t move quite as easily as they did as a teenager, a skilled Orthodontist can make a difference in your smile with the right approach…

New to Braces? Don’t Forget a Travel Kit!

Making a travel kit for a new braces wearer is easier than you may think…