Retainers and braces are two different things. Although they are all used in orthodontic treatments, people often confuse their use and their definition.

Braces are used to straighten teeth. The concept is to put a bracket on each tooth and link all those brackets with a metal wire. With time, teeth that have brackets will become straight because they follow the form of the wire.

Retainers are usually used after an orthodontic treatment is finished. When all teeth are straight, the brackets are removed. But those teeth have the tendency of moving back to their original position. That is why it is important to wear a retainer for them to remain at their new place after the treatment. Retainers cannot straighten teeth; they just keep them in the right position.

Orthodontic appliances look like retainers and sometimes people confuse them and call them retainers. Those appliances are used to correct orthopaedic problems, such as a narrow palate, jaws not well aligned together, or to make space when teeth are very crowded. These appliances do not really straighten teeth; they just prepare teeth for braces when there is a major problem.

The information above should be used as a reference only. Any medical decision should not be taken before consulting a health care professional.

The masculine gender may have been more used in the article, but without prejudice, to make reading easier.

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