Once your braces are removed, your dentist will likely prescribe a retainer for you to wear to allow the teeth and gums to further stabilize around your new tooth alignment.
Retainers are custom-made appliances that consist of a plastic base and metal wires that cover the outside of the teeth to help retain the new alignment. Most people are advised to wear their retainers day and night (except when eating or cleaning teeth) for the first six months after their braces come off. After that, most people can switch to nighttime wear, but follow your orthodontist’s recommendations. If your orthodontic needs are minor, your orthodontist may decide that a retainer alone is enough to solve the problem and you won’t even need braces. You can have a retainer without braces, but you can’t have braces without a retainer. Teeth do continue to shift after the braces come off, as the bones, muscles, and gums adjust to the changes. Retain your smile and wear that retainer.
It’s important to clean your retainer regularly to remove plaque, which can promote gum disease just like plaque on your teeth. The best time to do it is when you take it out to brush your teeth. There are commercial retainer cleaners available, but toothpaste and a soft-bristle toothbrush will do the job in most cases.