WHAT is a RETAINER??
A teeth retainer is a custom-made device you wear in your mouth over your teeth. It helps keep your teeth in their new, corrected position after braces treatment.
WHY ARE RETAINERS IMPORTANT??
Even after braces made your teeth straight, they aren’t completely firm in their new position. This doesn’t happen until the gums, bones and muscles get used to the change. Everyday habits like chewing and grinding apply forces to your teeth and can move them.
Your braces kept your teeth in a straight position for a long time. Once the braces come off, nothing is keeping your teeth from moving back to their previous position. Wearing a retainer helps keep your teeth in the correct place, so they don’t move. Think of it this way: Braces straighten your teeth, but your retainer keeps them that way. They help your teeth “retain” their position.
TYPES OF RETAINERS:
The two main types of retainers are:
- Fixed retainers that stay in your mouth.
- Removable retainers that you take out.
Many dental providers use a combination of fixed and permanent retainers to keep teeth straight. You could have both types at the same time. The purpose of all types of retainers is to make your alignment last for years.
- Fixed Retainer/ Permanent Retainer/ Bonded Retainer
Permanent or fixed retainers are made of a metal wire that is glued to your teeth. The name “permanent retainer” indicates exactly what the device does: stays on your teeth permanently to keep them from moving. You may have a permanent retainer on your teeth for the rest of your life.
- You don’t have to take it on and off, which makes it easier to keep your teeth in place after your braces come off.
- No one else knows it’s there except you, because it’s bonded behind your teeth.
- It has little to no effect on the way you speak, so you don’t have to feel self-conscious about wearing it in public.
- You can’t lose it because it’s securely attached with dental glue.
- It’s difficult to damage from normal everyday use of your mouth.
- It keeps your teeth in place to help keep your teeth aligned, since the retainer is always in place.
- The procedure for attaching a permanent retainer may be long and uncomfortable.
- Brushing and flossing around a permanent retainer requires extra effort. Your risk of cavities and gum disease can increase if you don’t take the time to properly clean around your permanent retainer.
- Having a metal object in your mouth all the time can be uncomfortable.
- Eating some foods might change how effective it is. Biting into hard or tough foods, like a whole apple or a tough steak, can bend the wire out of shape
- Removable retainer:Removable retainers can go in and out of your mouth. Traditional (Hawley) retainers have a piece of wire attached to plastic (or acrylic). Clear retainers (Essix) are also plastic but don’t have any wires. Both are custom-made to fit your teeth.
What are Hawley Retainers?
Hawley retainers are made from a strong acrylic base that serves as an anchor point for flexible metal wires. The acrylic base of a Hawley retainer sits flush with the palette, and the wires extend to clip around teeth, holding them securely in place. Because the wire is pliable, Hawley retainers may be adjusted to accommodate shifts in the teeth or jaw.
The Pros of Hawley Retainers:
There’s a reason that Hawley retainers have been a popular choice for so many years. They offer stability and consistent results.
Some of the pros of Hawley retainers include:
- Durability – Since they are made from a durable acrylic material, Hawley retainers are built to last. The acrylic base is virtually indestructible, and Hawley retainers can be cleaned by using a toothbrush and toothpaste without fear of scratching or damaging the appliance.
- Customizability – Hawley retainers are a popular choice for individuals who want to add a little sparkle to their dental appliance. The acrylic base is available in a wide array of colors and patterns, with the option to add glitter or stickers into the mixture. Because they are customizable, Hawley retainers are a popular choice for kids.
- Removability – Unlike permanent retainers, Hawley retainers are easy to pop in and out of the mouth. This makes them easy to clean and offers versatility in a variety of situations.
- Affordability- Hawleys Retainers tend to be more affordable than other options.
The Cons of Hawley Retainers
Despite their strong performance, there are a few considerations to take into account before purchasing a Hawley retainer.
- They Aren’t Discreet – Due to their design features, Hawley retainers are highly visible in the mouth. The metal wires that hook around the front teeth are conspicuous and may draw attention to the fact that you’re wearing a retainer. Additionally, because Hawley retainers need to rest against the palette, they have a greater impact on speech.
- More likely to impact speech than other types of retainers
- You need to regularly clean them to maintain hygiene, which might be a cumbersome task for few.
What are Essix Retainers?
Essix retainers are clear vinyl appliances designed to fit completely over the teeth. They are made by taking a dental impression and using the mold to create a flexible, removable, vinyl retainer.
Essix retainers are well-regarded for their precision. Because they are fashioned from a dental impression, they retain tooth alignment with the most accuracy.
The Pros of Essix Retainers
Essix retainers are a popular choice for patients seeking an effective, discreet, and affordable alternative.
- Efficacy – Essix retainers have the best track record when it comes to keeping teeth in place. Because they are designed to fit snugly around teeth, they are excellent at preventing movement over time.
- Discreet Wearability – Because they are made from a thin layer of clear vinyl, Essix retainers are virtually invisible. This makes them an appealing choice for patients who need to wear their retainers during the day as well as at night. Plus, since they are easy to remove, Essix retainers can be taken out and stored in a safe place when not in use.
The Cons of Essix Retainers
Despite their precision and wearability, here are a few drawbacks to take into consideration before purchasing an Essix retainer.
- They Are Easily Damaged – Because they are so flexible and lightweight, Essix retainers are more prone to wear and tear. Essix retainers may be scratched or damaged by toothpaste, and should be gently cleaned using an appropriate dental cleaning solution. In general, Essix retainers typically need to be replaced every few years.
- They Can Influence Your Bite – Unlike Hawley retainers that preserve a normal bite, Essix retainers introduce a thin layer of plastic in-between teeth. Over time, this layer may impact jaw and bite precision, and expose the retainer to damage from grinding or clenching teeth.
- Affordability- Essix retainers are the costliest option of all the retainer types.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT RETAINERS:
What are the advantages of using a retainer?
- When your provider takes off your braces, your teeth are perfectly aligned. Using a retainer keeps your teeth in the correct position so the results last. With the long-term use of a teeth retainer, all the hard work you put into getting and wearing braces pays off.
What happens if I don’t wear my retainer?
- It’s normal for teeth to move over time. If you don’t wear your retainer, your teeth will shift and move. They can become crooked, crowded or misaligned. Or you can develop an overbite. That’s why most dental providers prescribe the use of a teeth retainer after braces come off.
Do they hurt?
When you get your retainer after your braces come off, it shouldn’t hurt. The fit should be snug yet comfortable over your teeth. You could feel discomfort if:
- You forget to wear your retainer for a short time, then start wearing it again.
- You haven’t worn your retainer in a long time and try to wear it.
- Your retainer breaks or cracks.
- If you do feel pain, it’s probably from your retainer nudging your teeth into the correct alignment. If you wear your retainer as directed by your dental provider, and it’s in good condition, you shouldn’t feel any pain or discomfort.
Braces gave you straight teeth, but a retainer makes them last. You put a lot of time, energy and money into achieving that perfect smile through braces. You can keep it for years by following your dental provider’s recommendations for a teeth retainer. It’s an essential part of the teeth straightening process.