If you want your teeth to remain straight after completion of orthodontic treatment, you are going to need to think about lifelong retention #holdthatsmile

Fixed and removable retainers

If you are thinking about getting braces as an adult, you need to also consider whether you would be prepared to wear retainers upon completion of your treatment. Once your braces are removed, there is a possibility that your teeth will relapse and all the hard work you and your orthodontist have done to achieve a great smile will be lost.

To prevent this happening, you will need to wear retainers. There is a great saying ‘only wear your retainers for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight’ and this is something you need to think about and discuss with your orthodontist at the beginning of your treatment.

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There are three main types of retainers, fixed, removable clear trays (Essix retainers) and the more traditional acrylic plate and wire retainers (Hawley retainers). The choice of retainer is something you will need to discuss carefully with your orthodontist as depending on the nature of your treatment, one or more retainer types may be the preferred option.

Fixed retainers are permanently glued behind your fron teeth and are made of a thin wire which is barely noticable. They can become broken or distorted and a trip to your orthodontist will be required to repair them if this happens. Clear Essix retainers are similar in appearance to aligners such as Invisalign and are quite discreet and frequently only worn at night. Hawley retainers have been used for many years and are quite robust but a little more bulky than the other options.



Retainers are usually included in your treatment fees. Ask how much it will be to have a second ‘backup’ set made just in case you lose or break your primary ones.

Wear schedule

Your orthodontist will advise you on when you need to wear your retainers but this frequently involves a period of full time wear before being reduced to night time then occasional night time wear


Retainers are very effective in keeping your teeth in place as long as you wear them as directed


After initially adapting to wearing them, most people describe them as comfortable to wear


If you break or lose your retainers, you can get replacements made at most practices


You will barely notice your fixed retainers but it will take a few days to get used to speaking with removable retainers


It can take a few days to get used to your retainers so don’t give up


It is important that you keep your retainers clean and your orthodontist will show you how to do this. You can also use cleaning solutions such as ‘retainer brite’ to keep them clean and odour free

Losing retainers

Clear Essix retainers are incredibly easy to lose. Keep them in their case when you are not wearing them

Blog posts

How to make an Essix retainer

Essix retainers seem to be the retainer of choice for many patients (and orthodontists) and this clip shows how one is made.  It seems a simple process that both relies on the accuracy of the impressions taken at the surgery and the skill of the technician making the...

How to make a fixed retainer

Have you ever wondered how a bonded fixed wire retainer is made?  This YouTube video will show you how it is done.

Fixed retainers

At the end of your orthodontic treatment, you are going to want to ensure all the hard work and effort remains visible for a long time and for this, you will need to wear retainers.  There are several different types of retainers and this article looks at fixed...