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Retainers are either wire and metal or ceramic molds of your teeth that you wear after undergoing orthodontic treatment, such as braces, to stop your teeth from shifting back into their old position.

Fixed retainers hold your teeth in position 24/7 and are normally fixed to the back of the first few teeth of the bottom or top row. They can be more difficult to clean and require the use of a cleaning device, such as a floss threader, but they also yield the best results. Removable retainers are a combination of a wire that stretches along the front teeth of the top or bottom row that is held in place by acrylic material and clasps that hook around your back teeth to keep the retainer in place.

A patient is required to wear a removable retainer daily. Initially, after the braces are removed, a retainer needs to be worn all day and night for three months. Once the dentist has confirm that your teeth are not going to shift back into their old position, the patient can wear the retainer less and less. Although removable retainers are easier to clean, since they are removable it is more likely for them to get lost, damaged, melt in the sun or even become a chew toy for your pet.

Retainers, both fixed or removable, have great benefits besides keeping your teeth straight. A correct bite means well chewed food and good saliva production, which both contribute to a decrease in risk of developing plaque or tooth decay. Special types of retainers can also aid breathing and prevent snoring or trouble breathing at night. Other types if retainers and assist children with their speech impediments, as some retainers can help with tongue placement to form sounds.

Aligned teeth are easier to clean, and with daily dental care, your oral health and help keep the rest of your body healthy. For example, poor oral health can aggravate the blood-related effects of diabetes.