Retainers for Teeth Straightening 101

Millions of people, both adults and children, wear or have worn braces at some point in their lives to obtain a beautiful smile for themselves. But the difference between keeping that smile or heading back to square one is wearing your retainer. In fact, within one year after getting your braces removed, if you do not use a retainer, your teeth will likely shift back to their original form. In many cases, your teeth may actually become worse. The last thing you want is to have to put braces back on after wearing them for so long, and you can avoid that with a retainer. 

What Is A Retainer Exactly?

Retainers are oral devices that are meant to keep your teeth straight for the rest of your life. They can be metal or clear plastic and are mainly worn overnight to keep your teeth from shifting after being adequately aligned by braces. Many times, the retainer is removable, but there are some cases when orthodontists use a fixed retainer instead of leveraging a full set of braces, but this is only if your teeth are slightly crooked or overcrowded. 

Overall Benefits

It may come as no surprise that the primary perk of a retainer is to keep your teeth straight. But that is not all it can do. But did you know, additional benefits include:

  • Can help with speech impediments
  • Improves breathing
  • Promotes proper oral hygiene
  • Helps prevent diabetes
  • Reduces bacteria (straighter teeth are easier to clean).

Types of Retainers

There are three main kinds of retainers, ranging from wire/removable to fixed/permanent. 

  1. Clear Plastic Retainers: Made of either plastic or polyurethane and is often called vacuform retainers (VFRs) due to the retainer material being created over a model of your actual teeth. Most people like this kind because they are thin, supportive, and nearly invisible, which makes them less noticeable when wearing. The downside with these retainers is that they do wear down over time and will need to be replaced. We created the Retainer Program which provides free retainers for life because of this.
  2. Hawley Wire Retainers: Hawleys are made out of either plastic or acrylic along with a metal wire that goes on the front side of your teeth to keep them in place. It sits on the roof of your mouth and creates an awesome lisp. They do last a long time – up to 20 years.
  3. Fixed Retainers: Fixed retainers, commonly referred to as a bonded retainer, are permanently glued to the back of your teeth. They are intended to last a very long time, but can fall out. Bonded retainers are great because once they are in, you don’t have to think about them, but they are very tricky to floss behind.


The use of retainers will keep you on the road to a healthy and perfect smile. Our staff help you in determining which kind is best for your particular needs and give you the proper guidance so you can truly gain the most benefits from it.

If you have any questions, or want to learn more about our teeth straightening process and practices schedule a free consultation with Dr. Bates. We look forward to seeing you soon!