What is The Difference Between Aligners And Retainers?

Straight teeth and a perfect smile are a goal for many people. It can take time and money to achieve this, and with so many different dental products out there how can you know which ones to choose?

Many people have heard of aligners and retainers, but what are they and what do they do? It’s more simple than you might think: aligners help to “align” the teeth to the desired position, while retainers simply “retain” the position of the newly straightened teeth. Read on for a more detailed explanation how aligners and retainers work, and why dentists like Toothfairy™ use them for teeth straightening.

What Are Aligners?

When embarking on the world of teeth straightening, metal braces have been a popular choice over the last few decades, but over the past 15 years, aligners have become the top choice in shifting teeth. These are clear, custom-fitting dental devices made from BPA-free plastic that is virtually invisible.

Once one of our Toothfairy™ dentists provides you with an aligner, it will begin to shift your teeth into your ideal smile. You may feel slight discomfort, or your teeth may become sensitive while you wear an aligner, due to your teeth moving and slowing aligning into position. The more you wear an aligner, the faster you’ll achieve a perfect smile.

You should wear an aligners all day and night, only removing them to eat, drink and brush your teeth. Wearing aligners about 22 hours a day they may become dirty, so make  sure to brush them twice daily with your toothbrush, or use Toothfairy’s product Fairy Foam to keep a fresh feeling throughout the day while wearing your aligner or retainer.

Aligners will be changed every 2 weeks to keep movement going, and your new sets of aligners will be automatically sent out to you by a Toothfairy™ dentist.

What Are Retainers?

Although retainers look very similar to aligners, they perform a very different job. When your perfect smile is complete using the use of aligners, the next step that is an absolute must is retainers.

A retainer is used to prevent your teeth from shifting as opposed to an aligner which is used to shift your teeth into the desired position. Your teeth have “elastic memory” and will want to shift back into their natural position after your aligner treatments are completed. This is where a retainer comes in. A retainer  fits snuggly over your teeth, and you won’t feel pressure or increased sensitivity while wearing it. Toothfairy™’s quality retainers are barely noticeable both to the user and to the people around them. At first you should wear a retainer all the time, similar to aligners, but then you can decrease wear time to nighttime only. Using the retainers while you sleep is the best way to maintain that smile that you worked so hard for. It’s the best protection from your teeth moving back to how they were before starting treatment.

Last updated on February 7, 2024

Dr. Deepak Aulak

Dr. Deepak Aulak is a London-based dental practitioner with a special interest in cosmetic dentistry. Having graduated from King's College London in Dentistry, Dr. Aulak was decorated with over a dozen awards and scholarships along the way, which notably include the Jelf Medal, Malleson Prize for research and GKT Hospital's Full Shields.


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