Retainers are a lot less cumbersome to wear than braces, but can’t actually align teeth on their own. Retainers are used after braces to ensure that the teeth stay in the new alignment. The ligaments in your mouth can snap back into their old positions after braces are removed if a retainer isn’t utilized.
There are two types of retainers – permanent and removable. With the former, the retainer is attached to your back teeth using cement. It is bonded permanently and doesn’t require any special dental care. You just brush as you normally would.
Permanent retainers are a good option for smaller kids, those who may forget to use the retainer, or who are afraid of losing it.
A removable retainer is precisely what it sounds like. You can remove it before you eat and to clean it. You just need to rinse it periodically throughout the day and give it a thorough cleaning at least once a week.
Retainers are usually necessary for six months to a year after braces are removed and need to be worn at all times. After that, they no longer need to be worn continuously but do need to be used part of the day, say during the evening, to ensure that results are maintained.
Once your bone has reformed, and your teeth are permanently fixed in their final position, a retainer is no longer needed. This may take some time, so be prepared to continue using this device for a few years.