What is a retainer?
A teeth retainer is a custom-made device you wear in your mouth over your teeth. It helps keep your teeth in their new, correct position after orthodontic work is complete.
What do retainers do for teeth?
Even after braces made your teeth straight, they aren’t completely firm in their new position. This doesn’t happen until the gums, bones and muscles get used to the change. Everyday habits like chewing and grinding apply forces to your teeth and can move them. Shifting teeth can also lead to malocclusion. This is when your upper and lower teeth don’t align with your mouth closed.
Your braces kept your teeth in a straight position for a long time. Once the braces come off, nothing is keeping your teeth from moving back to their previous position. Wearing a retainer helps keep your teeth in the correct place, so they don’t move. Think of it this way: Braces straighten your teeth, but your retainer keeps them that way. They help your teeth “retain” their position.