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Retention in Orthodontic Treatment
Posted on 05/02/2017

Retention in Orthodontic Treatment

Once you’re finished with the active stage of orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will remove the braces from your teeth to reveal your brand new smile! This is an exciting time, but treatment isn’t completely over just yet. Once your braces are off, the retention phase of your treatment begins when you will be given a retainer to wear to hold your teeth in their new positions. It is very important to wear your retainer as directed by your orthodontist, because if you don’t, your teeth will slowly shift back into their original positions, which would undo all the effort and money you invested in your orthodontic treatment. The team at Doleski & Wolford Orthodontics wants the best treatment results for each of our patients, so that’s why we stress the importance of the retention phase of treatment.

Why A Retainer is Needed

After your teeth have been moved into their new positions, it takes time for the teeth, bone, and tissues that support them to adjust to their new alignment. Forgetting to put your retainer in or neglecting to wear it can cause your teeth to relapse back to their original positions. One reason relapse occurs is because the gum tissues contain elastic fibers that attach to the teeth. These fibers will naturally try to pull back to their original conformation and take the teeth right along with them. Additionally, teeth are naturally inclined to shift on their own over time. This is why wearing a retainer is one of the most important parts of your overall orthodontic treatment.


In the beginning of the retention phase, you may be told to wear your retainer all the time and to only remove it for a few reasons like when you eat, brush and floss your teeth, and when playing contact sports. Then after a few months, you may be told that you only need to wear your retainer at night for an indefinite period of time. But since every patient is unique with his or her own treatment plan, your orthodontist will customize the retention phase of treatment for you.

Types of Retainers

There are several types of retainers and your orthodontist will determine which is best for you, based on your unique orthodontic needs. The most common type of retainer is the removable Hawley retainer that is made of a plastic acrylic material and wire. The wire goes over the front of the teeth, and the acrylic portion fits on the inside of the mouth. Another common type of retainer is a clear overlay retainer that looks similar to a sports mouthguard or Invisalign aligner. This is also a removable appliance designed to be taken out when eating and when cleaning the teeth.


A bonded or permanent retainer is a very thin piece of wire that is attached to the back of the teeth. This type of retainer has the advantage of not requiring any cooperation on the part of the patient, except for keeping it clean. This is why these retainers are often used with young children who are between the first and second phases of treatment.

Questions About Orthodontic Treatment? Contact Your Erie, PA Orthodontists!

At Doleski & Wolford Orthodontics, we want all our patients to enjoy their new healthy and attractive smiles for the rest of their lives! If you have any questions about the retention phase of treatment, please feel free to contact us as we’re always happy to speak with you! If you’re looking for a orthodontist near Corry, Lawrence Park, or Erie, PA for yourself or your child, we’d love to welcome you to our practice! Just submit our online appointment request form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible to get you started with orthodontic treatment for a better smile!