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Orthodontic treatment is a transformative process resulting in a healthier, more attractive smile. However, achieving that perfect smile is only half the battle — maintaining it is just as crucial. After your braces are removed, or your clear aligner treatment is complete, retainers become an essential tool for preserving the results of your orthodontic journey.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the significance of retainers in upholding the beautiful smile you’ve worked so hard to achieve, the different types of retainers available, and recommendations for proper use and care. Our experienced team at Sullivan Orthodontics is committed to offering exceptional care alongside valuable resources to ensure a thorough understanding of each step in your orthodontic journey. Trust our orthodontic professionals in Bend, Oregon, to support you beyond the completion of your treatment, guiding you through the best practices for retainer use and maintenance.

Sullivan Orthodontics takes pride in providing state-of-the-art treatments for patients of all ages in Bend and Bend, Oregon. Our Bend Orthodontic Office offers personalized care tailored to your unique needs, with a dedicated team that strives to deliver outstanding results and a positive treatment experience.

Join us as we explore the essential role retainers play in keeping your smile radiant and lasting for years to come, supporting you in your ongoing journey towards optimal dental health and well-being.

Understanding the Purpose of Retainers

Retainers are an essential component of post-orthodontic treatment, playing a crucial role in maintaining the position of your teeth and preserving the beautiful results you’ve achieved:

  1. Post-Treatment Stabilization: Following the removal of braces or the completion of Invisalign treatment, your teeth still require time to stabilize in their new positions. Retainers help retain the alignment of your teeth while the bone and surrounding tissues adapt to these changes.
  2. Longevity of Treatment Results: Over time, the natural forces of biting, chewing, and aging can shift your teeth even after orthodontic treatment. Wearing a retainer ensures that your smile remains stable and well-aligned.
  3. Protecting Your Smile Investment: You’ve invested your time and resources into achieving a beautiful and correctly-aligned smile. Wearing a retainer helps protect that investment by preventing your teeth from relapsing into undesirable positions.

Types of Retainers: Fixed and Removable

There are two main types of retainers: fixed (bonded) retainers and removable retainers. Both types are designed to serve the same purpose—maintaining your post-treatment orthodontic results—but with distinct advantages and disadvantages:

1. Fixed (Bonded) Retainers

Fixed retainers consist of a thin wire that is bonded (fixed) to the back of your teeth. This option is typically used for the lower front teeth but can be used for the upper front teeth in specific cases.


– Low Maintenance: Once in place, fixed retainers require no effort on your part to hold your teeth in place.

– Durability: Fixed retainers are designed to be long-lasting, often remaining in place for several years.


– Cleaning Challenges: Fixed retainers can make flossing and cleaning around the bonded area more difficult, requiring the use of specialized cleaning tools such as interdental brushes or floss threaders.

– Possible Discomfort: Some patients may experience initial discomfort or irritation from the bonded wire, though this typically subsides over time.

2. Removable Retainers

Removable retainers are custom-made devices that can be easily inserted and removed by the patient. There are two popular types of removable retainers: Hawley retainers and Essix (clear) retainers.


– Ease of Cleaning: Removable retainers can be taken out for cleaning, making it simple to maintain proper dental hygiene.

– Convenience: The ability to remove your retainer for special occasions or photographs offers maximum flexibility.

– Customization: Hawley retainers can be personalized with a variety of colors or patterns.


– Compliance Dependence: The success of removable retainers depends on consistent and diligent wear, as per your orthodontist’s recommendations. Inconsistent wear may negate the benefits of the retainer.

– Replacement Requirements: Over time, removable retainers may need to be replaced due to wear or damage, resulting in additional costs.

Caring for Your Retainer: Tips and Best Practices

To ensure the effectiveness and longevity of your retainer, it’s essential to take proper care of the device:

  1. Cleaning Routine: For removable retainers, brush them daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush, non-abrasive toothpaste, and lukewarm water. For fixed retainers, use specialized tools such as interdental brushes or floss threaders to clean around the bonded wire.
  2. Proper Storage: Always store your removable retainer in its case when not in use. This practice helps prevent damage, loss, and bacterial contamination.
  3. Heat Protection: Exposure to high temperatures can warp or damage your retainer. Avoid leaving it in hot environments, such as direct sunlight, the dishwasher, or hot water.

Choosing the Right Retainer for Your Needs

The most suitable retainer for you will depend on various factors, including your orthodontic treatment, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Consult with your Bend orthodontist to determine which type of retainer best aligns with your unique needs and goals.

Why Using Retainers after Braces Matters:

Incorporating retainers into your post-orthodontic treatment plan is critical for maintaining the beautiful smile you’ve achieved. By understanding the different types of retainers available, along with the care and maintenance requirements, you can confidently navigate this essential aspect of your dental journey.

At Sullivan Orthodontics in Bend, Oregon, our experienced and compassionate team is dedicated to providing comprehensive, patient-centered care that extends well beyond the completion of your orthodontic treatment. Trust our professionals to guide you through the process of choosing and caring for a retainer that will protect your investment and help ensure a lifetime of radiant, well-aligned smiles. Contact us today for a consultation with our orthodontist in Bend!