Orthodontic treatment is a significant investment in your oral health and appearance. While straightening teeth with braces or aligners might seem like the hardest part, maintaining your newly aligned teeth is just as crucial.
This is where retainers come into play.
In this blog post, we will explore the different types of retainers and everything you need to know about them, so you can make an informed decision when it comes to preserving your beautiful smile.
- The Role of Retainers
- Hawley Retainers
- Essix Retainers
- Permanent or Fixed Retainers
- Vivera Retainer
- Proper Care and Maintenance for your Retainers
The Role of Retainers
Retainers are custom-made dental appliances designed to maintain the position of your teeth after orthodontic treatment. They are essential for the following reasons:
- Maintaining teeth alignment after braces After your braces are removed, your teeth need time to settle into their new positions. Retainers help hold them in place, preventing them from shifting back to their original positions.
- Preventing teeth from shifting Even without prior orthodontic treatment, teeth can naturally shift over time due to age, tooth loss, or other factors. Retainers can help maintain proper alignment and prevent further dental issues.
- Long-term use and care Depending on your specific case, your orthodontist might recommend long-term or even lifetime use of a retainer. Proper care and maintenance of your retainer are essential to ensure its effectiveness and durability.
The Hawley retainer is one of the most common types of retainers. It consists of a plastic or acrylic base that fits the roof of your mouth or behind your lower teeth and a metal wire that wraps around the front teeth.
The Pros and Cons of Hawley Retainers
- Durability: Hawley retainers are known for their longevity, with proper care.
- Adjustability: The metal wire can be adjusted by your orthodontist to refine your teeth alignment.
- Easy to clean: The removable nature of this retainer makes cleaning easy.
- Visibility: The metal wire is noticeable when you talk or smile.
- Possible discomfort: The wire and acrylic might cause initial discomfort or affect speech.
Ideal candidates for Hawley Retainers
Hawley retainers are suitable for patients who have completed orthodontic treatment and require a durable, adjustable retainer option.
The Essix retainer is a clear, removable retainer made from a thin, transparent plastic material that fits snugly over your teeth.
The Pros and Cons of Essix Retainers
- Aesthetics: The clear material makes the retainer less noticeable than traditional Hawley retainers.
- Comfort: Essix retainers are generally more comfortable due to their slim design.
- Easy to wear: The lack of metal components makes it easier to talk and eat with this type of retainer.
- Durability: Essix retainers are less durable than Hawley retainers and might require more frequent replacement.
- Limited adjustability: These retainers cannot be adjusted for minor alignment corrections.
Ideal candidates for Essix Retainers
Essix retainers are suitable for patients who prioritize aesthetics and comfort and are willing to replace their retainers more frequently if needed.
Permanent or Fixed Retainers
A permanent or fixed retainer is a type of retainer that is bonded directly to the backside of your teeth, usually on the lower front teeth. This retainer is not removable by the patient and requires special care.
The Pros and Cons of Fixed Retainers
- Aesthetics: The fixed retainer is virtually invisible when you talk or smile.
- Constant support: The permanent nature of this retainer ensures continuous support for your teeth.
- Low maintenance: No need to remember to wear it since it’s always in place.
- Cleaning difficulties: Extra care is needed to clean around the retainer during brushing and flossing.
- Risk of damage: The wire can be damaged by hard or sticky foods, and you may not immediately notice if it becomes detached.
- Potential for tartar buildup: The fixed retainer can make it difficult to clean teeth thoroughly, leading to tartar buildup over time.
Ideal candidates for Fixed Retainers
Permanent retainers are best suited for patients who may struggle with compliance in wearing removable retainers or have a higher risk of teeth shifting after orthodontic treatment.
They are often recommended for the lower front teeth, where shifting is most common.
Vivera retainers are a type of clear, removable retainers created by the makers of Invisalign. They are made from a proprietary thermoplastic material, designed to be strong, durable, and comfortable.
The Pros and Cons of Vivera Retainers
- Aesthetics: Vivera retainers are virtually invisible when worn, making them an attractive option for those who prioritize aesthetics.
- Durability: The thermoplastic material used in Vivera retainers is stronger than that of traditional Essix retainers, resulting in a longer-lasting retainer.
- Comfort: Vivera retainers are designed for maximum comfort and ease of use.
- Cost: Vivera retainers are generally more expensive than other clear retainer options.
- Limited availability: Vivera retainers are only available through orthodontists who offer Invisalign treatment.
Ideal candidates for Vivera Rerainers
Vivera retainers are suitable for patients who have completed Invisalign treatment or those looking for a durable, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing retainer option.
Proper Care and Maintenance for your Retainers
Hawley and Essix retainers
Clean your removable retainer daily with a toothbrush, mild soap, or specialized retainer cleaner.
Avoid using toothpaste, as it may scratch the surface and create a breeding ground for bacteria. Rinse thoroughly with cold or lukewarm water. Never use hot water, as it can warp the retainer.
Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, which typically involve using a soft toothbrush and mild soap. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.
Brush and floss around the retainer as part of your regular oral hygiene routine. A floss threader or water flosser can help clean around the wire more effectively.
Retainer storage tips
Use a retainer case
Always store your removable retainer in a case when not in use to protect it from damage and contamination.
Keep it away from heat
Avoid exposing your retainer to high temperatures, such as hot water or direct sunlight, as this can warp the material.
When to replace your retainer
Over time, removable retainers may become worn, cracked, or damaged. If you notice any signs of wear or damage, consult your orthodontist for a replacement.
If your retainer no longer fits comfortably or securely, it may need replacement or adjustment. Consult your orthodontist to ensure proper fit and function.
Your orthodontist will also likely advise you on when to replace your retainer based on your specific needs and circumstances.
Choosing the right retainer is essential for maintaining your beautiful smile and ensuring long-term dental health.
Consult with your orthodontist to determine the best retainer option for your specific needs and circumstances.
Remember, proper care and maintenance of your retainer are crucial for its effectiveness and durability.
By taking the necessary steps to protect your investment in orthodontic treatment, you can enjoy a confident, healthy smile for years to come.