BRACES RETAINERS: (Orthodontics)

Today, when cosmetics is so popular, braces retainers, and orthodontics is a very important field.


In general, the ideal occlusion is when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth, and the lower molars and canines are aligned slightly ahead of the uppers when closed. There are many other factors, but that's the general picture.

Braces are needed when teeth need to be moved for a variety of reasons.

  • Crowding
  • Not enough room for all teeth to erupt
  • Excessive overbite
  • Underbite
  • Open bite (the teeth do not contact, normally in front)
  • Cross bite (when the lower teeth overlap the upper teeth)
  • Midline is off
  • Upright teeth that have tipped

They are more common in adolescents, but these days many adults are getting them as well. They are not only an esthetic concern, but can help prevent TMJ problems and can definitely help position teeth to be restored properly.

Often times BRACES RETAINERS will not be placed until a majority of the PRIMARY TEETH have fallen out (about 10-12 yrs of age), but ORTHODONTISTS often times do like to see patients BEFORE this happens.

This is necessary because if they see a developmental problem EARLY, sometimes they can HELP CORRECT it early, which may make actual BRACES stage less involved.

Diagrams of Overbite, Underbite, Malocclusions


Braces are normally only placed on permanent teeth, but sometimes phase 1 treatment is recommended. Some of the potential benefits include:

  • Possibly avoiding future treatment, or making it less extensive
  • Improving facial appearance and self esteem
  • Improving the relationship of upper and lower jaws
  • Helping to guide teeth into proper relationship while growth occurs
  • Helping to prevent injury to the front teeth


  1. Bracket- The main part bonded to the tooth or attached to the metal band
  2. Archwire- The wire that gets attached to the brackets
  3. Elastic Ligature- Plastic ring that ties archwire onto bracket Ligature Wire- Tiny Wire that ties archwire to bracket
  4. Hooks- Attaches rubberbands/elastics to brackets
  5. Band- Metal ring with bracket that is glued to tooth


There are metal BANDS which are cemented around the MOLAR teeth, and the remaining teeth receive BRACKETS, which are cemented to the fronts of the teeth. This can normally be done without the use of any ANESTHETIC.

Often times SPACERS will be placed about 1 week prior to having the braces put on. These go between your molars, which make room for the bands to be placed when the braces are put on. This normally does not hurt, and just feels like you have food stuck between your teeth.

There are wires that are placed between each BRACKET and BAND, and are held in place with TINY rubber bands. This wire is bent accordingly to move the teeth to the desired positions.

For normal orthodontic cases, the braces will be TIGHTENED every month, and for the first few days afterwards, the teeth are usually UNCOMFORTABLY sore.

Other items which may be used are larger RUBBER BANDS. Patients may need to manually place these between arches, depending on the orthodontists recommendations.


Teeth are moved with the wires, and need an anchoring force. This is normally provided by the molars, but sometimes HEADGEAR or MINI IMPLANTS may be needed.

HEADGEAR goes around your head/neck and attaches to your teeth/braces, and your head/neck provide the anchoring force to pull your teeth where they are needed.

MINI IMPLANTS can sometimes be placed in your mouth, and provide the same anchoring force to move teeth as needed. Mini implants are not permanent, and are removed after they are not needed.


Elastics are small rubber bands that help to move your teeth in a way that braces alone cannot. They are hooked on your upper braces to your lower braces, and help to pull your teeth together properly.

They may take a few days to get used to putting them on, but as with most things, after a little practice you'll get them on without any trouble.

Your orthodontist will tell you how often to wear them, such as all the time or only at night.


This depends on the complexity of the case and varies between individuals.


Obviously there is an esthetic difference, but normally takes LONGER to move the teeth wearing the CLEAR ones than wearing the METAL ones. The clear ones also may be a bit more expensive, but it's your choice.


Damon braces use different types of wires which can help short treatment time. They also do not utilize ties, which are normally tightened each appointment with conventional braces, so it reduces the pressure on your teeth.


In-Ovation braces is a brand of clear braces which advertises that it can move teeth faster than metal ones, so you may want to ask your orthodontist about it. In-Ovation also does not use elastic or metal ties, so they tend to be easier to keep clean.


It is much more esthetic than traditional braces retainers and orthodontists can use it for pretty much everything that traditional braces can do.  You have your impressions taken in the beginning, and a series of clear invisalign aligners are made. You wear them basically all day except for when you are eating and brushing your teeth, and move to the next retainer in the series as your teeth move.

You normally will change to the next aligner every 2 weeks and need to be seen every 6 weeks or so to make sure your teeth are tracking properly.

Sometimes buttons, or little tooth colored attachments are bonded to your teeth to help exert pressure in the proper directions, or your teeth may need to be adjusted to achieve the best results.

The benefits include:

  • No metal bands or brackets
  • No wires
  • Easier to clean
  • No food restrictions
  • They are virtually invisible


It is very important to brush and floss effectively when you have braces. Braces tend to accumulate plaque and calculus, which if not removed, will cause cavities and or decalcification.

Below is a series of photos demonstrating proper home care.


  • Brush where tooth and gums meet
  • Brush each tooth in each arch separately
  • Brush above and below the braces


  • Use floss threaders to thread the floss under the archwire
  • Floss both teeth
  • Floss around the gums

  • Hard Candy
  • Corn Chips
  • Popcorn
  • Beef Jerky
  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Pizza Crust
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Bubble Gum
  • Starburst
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Tootie Rolls
  • Gummy Bears
  • Caramels
  • Taffy
  • Other Chewy Candies

Aside from braces, your orthodontist may utilize some other appliances.
HEADGEAR: Headgear is used to move the upper molars back. When teeth are moved, the head is used as an anchor. FACE MASK: These are worn to move the upper jaw and or teeth forward. HERBST APPLIANCE: These can be made in a variety of designs, depending on the desired result. They can help open or close spaces, expansion, or helping with intrusion. PALATAL EXPANDERS: These are used to help expand the palate in children whose palate is too narrow. The palatal expanders widen the palate and help create more space for permanent teeth to erupt. They are sometimes called rapid palatal expanders.

SPACE MAINTAINERS, which are placed in children who have lost primary teeth prematurely. The space may need to be maintained in order to allow room for the permanent tooth to erupt. After the permanent tooth erupts, the space maintainer can be removed.

The second picture below is also sometimes referred to as a lower lingual holding arch.

OTHER RETAINERS, which may accomplish any number of goals, such as tipping a tooth forward.


  • Essix retainers are the clear plastic retainers,
  • Hawley retainers
  • Vivera retainers

All retainers help maintain your teeth in their new position.  Your orthodontist will probably recommend one or another, but they all serve the same purpose. As long as you wear your braces retainers (whichever you get), your teeth will stay straight. 

Visit our retainer page for more pictures of the Hawley, Essix, and Vivera retainers

Your braces retainers probably cost THOUSANDS of dollars, DO NOT THROW THAT AWAY BY NOT WEARING YOUR RETAINERS!!!

Initially it is recommended to wear them EVERY NIGHT, but after while you only need to wear them 2-3 NIGHTS per MONTH.


BRACES RETAINERS can be used to help RESTORE a seemingly HOPELESS tooth via,


This is used when a tooth is fractured off at or below the gumline, and more tooth needs to be exposed in order to restore. The tooth will need to be

ROOT CANALED first, but after that is done, the ORTHODONTIST will attach a wire to the tooth, place a few ORTHODONTIC BRACKETS, and have that tooth EXTRUDED out of the socket as many MILIMETERS as needed. This is often done in CONJUNCTION with PERIDONTAL (gum) SURGERY.When the tooth is EXTRUDED with braces retainers, often times the gum will come with the tooth. Therefore, the gum may need to be cut back to where it is on the adjacent teeth.

After the tooth is extruded the proper amount, it will probably need to be HELD at that position for a few months, to allow the bone to form under the root. If this is not done, the tooth may attempt to return to its original position.


Q: What if bands or brackets come loose?

A: Call your orthodontist to let them know what happened and to schedule an appointment. If any parts have fallen off, bring them to the appointment to be rebounded or recemented.

Q: What if the archwire or headgear is broken, or a hook or ligature is lost?

A: These problems can cause teeth to shift in the wrong direction and should be fixed as soon as possible.

Q: What if a wire is sticking out or poking the mouth?

A: Either use wax from your orthodontist, or call your orthodontist to let them know. These do not take long to fix and they should be able to get you in almost whenever is convenient.

Q: What if the mouth feels sore?

A: Your mouth will normally be sore after most orthodontic appointments due to the braces being adjusted and the pressure being placed on the teeth needed in order to move them. Warm salt water rinses or pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil can help.

Q: Are braces ok if you play sports?

A: Let your orthodontist know, but this is not a problem.

Q: Are braces ok if you play a musical instrument?

A: Let your orthodontist know if you play a wind instrument, but this is also not a problem.

Q: Do you need to take any extra vitamins during treatment?

A: Vitamin C can help to restore and heal bone in addition to maintaining healthy gums, so check with your orthodontist to see if any supplements are needed.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.