The day your braces are removed is always an exciting day, however your orthodontic care is not complete. Keeping your beautiful smile is just as important (if not more) than creating your smile. Retention is how you maintain that smile. When your braces are removed, you will be given retainers.

As indicated by their name, retainers “retain” or hold the teeth in the desired finished position. There are several different types of retainers available and the first set is included with treatment; The ones most frequently prescribed by Dr. Garrett include the invisible retainer, the bonded “permanent” retainer, or the “traditional” Hawley retainer. Contrary to popular belief, one is not necessarily better than the other. All retainers, when worn properly, are capable of keeping the teeth straight. Dr. Garrett will discuss which type is ideal for your new smile.

Hawley Retainer

The “traditional” Hawley retainer is made of rigid colored acrylic and wire. The acrylic rests on the inside of your teeth while a wire wraps around the outside to hold teeth in proper alignment. These retainers last for a long time and small adjustments can be made if minor tooth relapse occurs.

Essix Retainer

Invisible “Essix” retainers are made of a clear plastic material that has been custom molded to your teeth after the braces have been removed. While not as long as “traditional” retainers, they can last for years if cared for as instructed. These can also be used as whitening/bleaching trays.

Bonded Retainer

Bonded “permanent” retainers can be used on one or both arches. They are generally bonded to the inside of the front teeth. This type of retainer is especially helpful in a case of severely crooked or crowded teeth, or to keep large gaps from opening back up. Hygiene requires extra attention.


Our office retainer protocol is to wear retainers full-time for the first 6-8 months.

After that time, you should plan on wearing your retainers EVERY NIGHT for the next 1-2 years during which time Dr. Garrett will be monitoring your retention. After monitored retention, you will “graduate” and further retainer wear will be instructed at this time. As current literature suggests, tooth movement occurs throughout life, so Dr. Garrett will most likely recommend wearing retainers “Nighttime for a Lifetime”.

Teeth can begin shifting back to their original position immediately, especially within the first year after removing your braces. If you lose your removable retainer or if your fixed retainer comes loose in any area please contact the office as soon as possible. Prompt action can help prevent further shifting and help maintain a beautiful smile.