Types of Retainers
The Essix retainer is a transparent removable retainer that fits over the entire arch of teeth. Similar to Invisalign® trays, Essix retainers have no wires. They are inexpensive and easier to wear. They can be used for other treatments as well, including tooth movement and bridges.
Bonded lingual retainers are cemented directly to the inside surface of your lower canines (eye teeth). This is one of the best ways to prevent your lower teeth from shifting as it is permanently attached! Patients with bonded lingual retainers must be careful with their bite as the bonding material may break due to incorrect biting and cause teeth to shift quickly. As with removable retainers, it is important to keep them clean. When brushing, make sure to carefully clean the inside of your lower teeth as well as the wire.
The Hawley retainer, one of the most common types, is a removable retainer made of a combination of metal wires and sturdy acrylic, and is designed to keep your teeth in place. This retainer is specially made from impressions of your teeth so that it fits snugly and comfortably in the roof of your mouth, while any wire or acrylic framing keeps your teeth in perfect position. The acrylic can also be personalized with a large number of colors and/or patterns.
How long do I need to wear my retainers?
While it may vary from patient to patient, the normal period for full-time retainer wear lasts for about two years. During this time, we will schedule regular appointments every 3-6 months to give us an opportunity to monitor your progress and address any questions or concerns you have. After this full period of full-time retainer wear, we will often recommend part-time retainer wear indefinitely, so as to ensure your smile is as straight and beautiful as the day your braces came off!
Can teeth move after treatment?
Absolutely! The forces that our office took advantage of to move your teeth into proper position are the same ones that can shift your teeth into an improper position without care and oversight. Tooth position typically changes in patients over time, regardless of orthodontic treatment, and minor changes to your retainer may be necessary in the future, but our ultimate goal is to keep your smile beautiful and functional for the rest of your life.
Losing or breaking your retainers not only potentially jeopardizes your new smile, it also adds expense for retainer repair or replacement! Therefore, it is important that you treat your retainer with as much care as possible. Brush your retainer with cool (not hot!) water and toothpaste. You may also need to soak it occasionally in dental cleanser to keep it smelling and tasting fresh. And if your retainer is not in your mouth, it should be in its case! Retainers kept in pockets, placed on tables or tucked into napkins are frequently broken or accidentally thrown away. Be sure to keep your retainers away from dogs or other pets, as they will often try to chew on them. If you break or lose your retainer, please contact our office right away so that we can repair or replace it for you as soon as possible.
Remember – retainers are important to keep your new smile forever, so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far!