Why do I need a retainer after I get my teeth straightened?

Dustin S. Burleson, DDS
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
Years ago, patients and clinicians alike thought you could straighten your teeth and they would stay straight forever. Research has now shown that the only way to guarantee straight teeth for life is through the use of fixed or removable retainers for life. As we age, teeth naturally shift to the middle and crowd. Combined with late growth of the lower jaw, shifting of the teeth is expected following orthodontic treatment. Therefore, retainers are extremely important in the maintenance of your new smile following orthodontic treatment.
Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics

Whether you straightened your teeth through orthodontic treatment, or were born with perfectly straight teeth, over time your teeth will shift. Studies have shown that if teeth are not retained over time with a retainer they will shift. Some patients' teeth will shift fast, some will shift slowly. But the shifting will have a cumulative effect and the longer one goes without a retainer the more shifting will take place.

Continue Learning about Orthodontics

Can adults use braces to straighten their teeth?
Discovery HealthDiscovery Health
Braces, also called orthodontics, can improve the appearance of teeth in both children and in adults...
More Answers
Am I too old to get braces?
Dante A. Gonzales, DMDDante A. Gonzales, DMD
The most common age for getting braces is 11 to 12. However, Dante Gonzales, DMD, explains in this v...
More Answers
Are braces affordable?
Gregory J. Jorgensen, DMDGregory J. Jorgensen, DMD
Braces are one of the best values in medicine today. My son had Lasik surgery this past summer and t...
More Answers
What is malocclusion of the teeth?
Dan JenkinsDan Jenkins
Malocclusion, (literally, unhealthy-bite), can be caused by underdevelopment of the jaws that hold t...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.