What is Retention?

Your smile is your most precious possession. It is the first thing you offer the world. You want it to be perfect. But what happens after you achieve your ideal smile through orthodontic treatment? How can you make your results last? This is where an essential step in orthodontic treatment comes into play – retention. You might be asking yourself, “What is retention?” This often overlooked yet important phase is the final step in your orthodontic treatment, helping your teeth remain in their new position for the long run. At Delplanche Orthodontics, under the expert guidance of Dr. Delplanche in both Beaverton and Lake Oswego, we prioritize retention to maintain the gleaming smiles we’ve helped craft. Keep reading to find out as we explore the world of retention in orthodontics.

What Is Retention In Orthodontics?

To understand retention in orthodontics, let’s begin by celebrating your victories so far. You’ve gone through the process of having braces or Invisalign, attending appointments, dealing with discomfort, and maintaining meticulous oral hygiene. Your teeth have moved to different positions, and your smile has never looked better. You’re ready to show off that brilliant, confident grin. But there’s a crucial step remaining: Retention.

In orthodontics, retention is the phase immediately following active treatment. Once your braces are off or you’ve completed your Invisalign treatment, your teeth are free from the force that guided them to their new positions. However, the tissues surrounding your teeth – the gums, the bone, the elastic fibers – all need time to adjust to these changes. They’ve been pressured during the treatment phase, and now they need time to settle down so they can hold your teeth in their new places.

The retention phase is designed to do precisely this: maintain the new position of your teeth after the active movement has concluded. This period assures that all the hard work you put into achieving your perfect smile is not lost. We don’t need your teeth to revert to their old places – you might hear the doctor refer to this problem as a relapse.


Dr. Delplanche and our team at Delplanche Orthodontics emphasize the importance of this phase to all our patients. Retention isn’t simply the next box to check off your treatment plan. It’s a lifetime commitment to preserving the stunning smile you’ve worked hard to achieve. Here are a few more things to keep in mind to make your retention as awesome as you deserve. 

The Purpose of Retention

The goal of the retention phase in orthodontics is that your newly aligned teeth stay precisely where we want them. Your teeth will want to naturally drift back to their original positions after the braces come off or the last Invisalign aligner is used. This happens because the memory of the fibers around your teeth tries to pull them back. 

This is where retention comes into play. Retainers are the heroes of this phase, keeping your teeth secured until the surrounding structures adjust to the new setting. Wearing a retainer helps to stabilize your teeth, allowing the bone and tissues around the teeth to reorganize and settle.

At Delplanche Orthodontics, we emphasize the importance of this phase. It’s a critical part of the orthodontic journey that helps preserve your investment of time, energy, and money, safeguarding the long-lasting stability of your smile. Dr. Delplanche wants to help you understand the purpose of retention and to assist you through this vital stage.

What is Retention

What Are Retainers?

As with most orthodontic treatments, no single approach works for every single smile. At Delplanche Orthodontics, we know every mouth is unique, so Dr. Delplanche offers different types of retainers to suit each individual’s needs best. The two most common types are removable and fixed retainers. Removable retainers can be taken out during meals and when brushing your teeth. In contrast, fixed retainers are bonded to the back of your teeth and remain in place all the time.

Dr. Delplanche recommends to all patients to wear retainers for a lifetime. This recommendation is to create a habit and routine of wearing retainers nightly to ensure your teeth stay straight. Generally, more intensive retainer wear is recommended for at least the first six months after braces are removed or Invisalign treatment is completed to ensure a healthy routine.  After this period, some patients might be able to wear their retainers for just a few nights a week. This is because, as we age, slight tooth movement can occur naturally, which your retainer can help to prevent. 

Rest assured, our Beaverton and Lake Oswego teams will advise you on the type of retainer and length of retention phase best suited for your individual needs to ensure a lifetime of super smiles.

Getting The Most Out Of Retainer Treatment

Your retainer will do its job. Dr. Delplanche will customize your retainer to fit your teeth. If your retainer is fixed, remember to continue brushing and flossing as the doctor directs. Don’t skip out! Your teeth still need to be shiny during this phase of treatment. If you wear a removable retainer, remember to wear it nightly consistently and keep it in its case when you are not wearing it.  The better you comply with the doctor’s directions, the better your treatment will be! 

What is Retention


Now you have the answer to “What is retention?” You know more about retention and its role in maintaining your dazzling smile. Dr. Delplanche and our whole team at Delplanche Orthodontics are dedicated to assisting you through each phase of your treatment. With our offices conveniently located in Beaverton and Lake Oswego, we’re always nearby to provide the support and expert care you need. Are you ready to start your journey toward a shimmering, lasting smile? Visit us here to schedule a free consultation.