Removable and Bonded Retainers

Retainers are often used near the end of a course of orthodontic treatment. Retainers hold newly straightened teeth in place while the surrounding gum and bone adjusts to the new position of the teeth. The tissues around the roots take time to adjust to the new tooth positions and there is a particular risk of relapse in the early months after the brace is removed. Even in the longer term, some risk remains and the best advice is to continue retention indefinitely if at all possible.

Retainers may be removable or fixed, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

  • Removable retainers are usually worn full time initially but reduced to night times after a period of time. Your orthodontist will tell you how long to use the retainer for. They are effective but obviously depend on the patient remembering to wear them. There are two types called Essix and Hawley and which you use will be dependent on your treatment type.
  • Fixed/bonded retainers are usually bonded to the back surface of the teeth so they cannot be seen during day to day activity. They are therefore in place all the time and are highly effective, though you do have to take care with eating certain food types and performing certain activities. A high standard of tooth cleaning near the retainer wire is essential to avoid gum problems. They do need regular inspection (we recommend a check up every 12 months) because if any of the bonds fail, the tooth in question may start to drift out of position. We guarantee our bonded retainers for 12 months so any repairs made during this period are free of charge. For this reason it is essential for the patient to contact us at once if there is a breakage. Bonded retainers are not available as part of NHS care, please see the fee guide for prices.
Frequently Asked Questions

How long will I need to wear a retainer?

This will vary according to how your teeth looked before the orthodontic treatment started. However, as a general rule you will be asked to wear a removable retainer for a minimum of 12 months. This may mean wearing it all the time at first, then going on to just night-time wear. You will be advised if long-term wear is required. You should expect your teeth to move a little once you stop wearing retainers. Changes in the position of your teeth can continue throughout life and are part of the normal ageing process.

Do I need to see my regular dentist?

Yes. It is a good idea to visit your dentist regularly now that you are wearing retainers as it will be easier for them to check your teeth for decay.

How will a removable retainer affect me?

Your speech will be different at first. Practice speaking with the retainer in place e.g. read out aloud at home on your own. In this way, your speech will return to normal within a couple of days. To begin with you may produce more saliva and have to swallow more than normal. This is quite normal and will quickly pass in a couple of days.

What do I do if my retainer breaks or I lose it?

Ring up for an appointment as soon as possible on 02085674483. Do not wait for your next review appointment as your teeth may move whilst you are not able to wear your retainers. If you are an NHS patient and your retainer breaks, we do charge a fee for replacement or repair. Since the 1st April 2014 we charge NHS patients £65.70 for each retainer that breaks, although this figure is subject to change.

If you are being treated under the NHS and your retainer does not break, the orthodontists at our practice will continue your care free of charge for 12 months after your first appliance has been removed. However, after this time patients must pay privately for continuing care, including re-treatment, replacement or repair of your retainer. This is national policy.

You can find out about this policy at:

Essex Removable RetainerBonded Retainer