Types of Orthodontic Retainers

An orthodontic retainer is an appliance that keeps your teeth in place after treatment with dental braces. For more information about orthodontic retainers, check out this article. In here, we will discuss the different types retainers your dentist may recommend and how each one work.

Removable Orthodontic Retainers

Retainers are classified as either removable or fixed. Which one work better depends on the wants, needs, and compliance of the patient.

Removable retainers are more commonly used. They usually consist of plastic or a combination of wire and acrylic material. The wire may run across the front or back surface of the teeth.

The main advantage of removable retainers is that they much easier to clean, owing to the fact that you can remove them from your teeth whenever you want to.

The disadvantage, however, is that it relies on patient compliance and there’s a chance that some patients won’t wear it as prescribed by their orthodontist. It also gets lost easily, especially you if leave it lying around and wrapped in a tissue. You can have it replaced, but you will have to spend as much as $300 for the new one.

There two most common popular examples of removable retainers are the Hawley and Essix retainers.

Hawley appliance is probably the most common type of retainer you see. It is a combination of acrylic and metal wires.

The wires are formed into clasps, which are then anchored to the acrylic body that sits on the palate. These clasps grasp the teeth to keep the retainer secured in place.

Hawley retainers are adjustable, and can thus be used to further improve the alignment of your teeth.

Essix retainers look pretty much like Invisalign aligners, and are therefore most suitable for those who have had that type of orthodontic treatment.

These retainers are made of clear plastic, and hence cannot be seen when worn. They are constructed by your orthodontist using a mold of your teeth and a vacuum appliance. Unlike Hawley retainers, Essix retainers are non-adjustable.

Fixed Orthodontic Retainers

Fixed retainers, on the other hand, are usually made of a thin wire that runs across the back of the teeth.

It is bonded or cemented in place using the same material applied on your brackets. Compared to removable retainers, fixed retainers are quite more difficult to clean, so special cleaning aids are prescribed to keep the both the retainer and your teeth free from plaque buildup.

But their biggest advantage is that they tend to produce better outcome because they hold your teeth in place 24/7.

In short, patient compliance is not a problem. Another advantage is that since the wire is at the back of the teeth, it will appear like you’re not wearing a retainer at all.

Regardless of the type of orthodontic retainer that you use, it is advised that you do routine dental visits to ensure periodic maintenance of the appliance and also to check if your retainer is working or you need another one.

Orthodontic Retainers: FAQs

If you have or have had dental braces, then like many people, one of the things that you very much look forward to is that day when your dentist finally gets them off. So you come to your dentist’s clinic for your de-bonding appointment and just like that, your teeth are perfect.

But before you can celebrate, you dentist suddenly ruins your perfectly happy moment by saying that you need to put on your retainers now.

Yes, we know the feeling, but don’t get disappointed yet because it is for your own good. Learn more about orthodontic retainers and how they can help your now perfect teeth stay that way.

What are Orthodontic Retainers?

Simply put, an orthodontic retainer, as its name suggests, is custom-made appliance that retains your teeth to their new position after the removal of your dental braces. There are different types of retainers, and you can learn more about them in this article.

Why would I need an Orthodontic Retainer?

Having your braces off doesn’t mean that the whole process of tooth movement is done. The forces that moved your teeth into their perfect alignment will take some time to stop.

If you don’t use retainers, then these forces will continue moving your teeth even after the braces are removed, causing them to be misaligned again.

Also, it may take a while for supporting structures (i.e. bone and periodontal ligament) to remember the new position of your teeth and adapt to other changes.

How do Orthodontic Retainers work?

Retainers prevent further tooth movement basically by acting as “brake” which stops the forces cause the movement. They signal the tooth roots to stay in place, which thereby preserve the correct alignment created by your dental braces.

How long do I have to wear an Orthodontic Retainer?

Orthodontists recommend wearing a retainer for at least six months after the removal of your dental braces. You must wear your retainer exactly as your orthodontist say especially during the first six months. This period is very critical because it is when tooth movement is still active.

Depending on the case, some patients are even required to wear their retainers for life after the critical period. But don’t worry, if you happen be one of them, you would only need to wear them at night.  You can walk around and spend your entire daytime without your retainers.

 How do I take care of my Orthodontic Retainer?

Your retainers should be cleaned every night by rinsing it with warm water, or with cleaners that are especially formulated for retainers. Denture cleaners also work. Some retainers can also be cleaned by brushing them using a soft-bristled toothbrush and tiny amount of toothpaste – ask your orthodontist if your retainer is suitable for this method.

If you wear your retainer 24/7, be sure to clean it every now and then to prevent bacterial buildup.

Wearing your retainers is a must, especially if you wouldn’t want your teeth to go back to their pre-treatment state. Majority of adults who need orthodontic treatment are actually patients whose condition has relapsed because they did not wear their retainers.

Always follow your orthodontist’s recommendations to make sure that all the time and resources you’ve spent for your orthodontic treatment will all be worth it.