Retainers and Retention


You have worked very hard to achieve a healthy and beautiful smile, and now we need to protect your investment! All orthodontic retainers fit into one of three families and each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your orthodontic treatment, one retainer might be better than the others so we will discuss the specifics of each retainer option and how it applies to your individual treatment at your final check appointment.

If there is a retainer option that is better for you, we will make our recommendation, but we also want you to be involved in the decision-making process. It is ultimately up to you to ensure proper retainer wear and care. Your orthodontic care has many lifelong benefits in dental health, appearance, and self-esteem, and proper retainer wear will ensure these benefits continue. If at any time you have any questions about your retainers or your retention’s protocol, please do not hesitate to call our office so that we can help to ensure your teeth stay as beautiful as the day you finished treatment!


Advantages: Clear plastic retainers are clear and very esthetic, less bulky, easy to talk in, very good at holding teeth, cover the tops of teeth and can offer some protection for patients that grind their teeth.

Disadvantages: While clear plastic retainers are very durable, the average patient will likely need to replace them every 5 to 8 years. They require compliance and will not keep teeth straight if they are not worn.


Advantages: The Hawley retainer is very durable, comes in custom colors, and allow for small adjustments.

Disadvantages: The Hawley retainer is a little bulkier, and it’s harder to speak when wearing. They require compliance and will not keep teeth straight if they are not worn.


Advantages: A bonded retainer does not require compliance, although they are not maintenance free.

Disadvantages: With a bonded retainer, it is more difficult to clean and floss teeth and there are dietary restrictions as eating hard items will cause them to pop loose and not hold teeth. They require repairs if they become loose. This retainer is not bonded to every tooth, so we suggest wearing a clear retainer as well.



All removable retainers must be worn 22 hours per day for the first 2 weeks, then 12 hours per day for one year, then night time wear (8 to 12 hours) indefinitely or your teeth have a high chance to move towards their pre-treatment position. These are guidelines that current orthodontic research and our clinical experience of treating orthodontic patients for more than 40 years has shown to help you maintain your investment. If your retainers are getting tight, you might not be wearing them for the necessary hours. If you have any questions about your retainers, please call our office.


Removable retainers should be brushed and cleaned under running water each time they are removed. Use a toothbrush and mild liquid soap every day for general cleaning. You may also use a retainer cleaning solution to help remove white tartar buildup. When not being worn, always keep the retainers in their case and never expose them to extreme temperatures such as a dishwasher or the dashboard of a car. Keep retainers away from pets because they will love to use them as a chew toy!


No special care is needed for a fixed retainer, BUT a lot of special care is needed for your teeth bonded to the fixed retainer. You must clean under the bonded retainer daily by brushing and flossing these teeth. The fixed retainer can remain in place until you desire to have it removed or if your dentist requests to have it removed due to health concerns of the bonded teeth. Let us know any time the bonded retainer comes loose, as it will become ineffective at holding the position of the teeth. In this case, we will need to repair or replace the retainer with another bonded retainer or a removable option.