orthodontic treatment

Types of Retainers: Choosing the Best Option for Your Smile

After the completion of orthodontic treatment such as braces, retaining the achieved position of the teeth is critical. This stability is commonly maintained through the use of dental retainers. 

Retainers are custom-made devices that hold teeth in place after braces are removed. Their primary function is to ensure that the teeth remain aligned and prevent them from reverting to their original positions, ensuring the lasting impact of orthodontic treatment.

There are several types of retainers available, each with specific features and benefits. Choosing the appropriate type of retainer is an important decision and depends on the individual’s specific dental needs, lifestyle, and the recommendation of their dental care provider. The duration and method of retainer wear can vary significantly and are essential factors in maintaining orthodontic results.

Ready to keep your smile perfect after braces? Wear your Smilebliss retainer every night to ensure your teeth stay beautifully aligned for years to come. 

 Contact us today for more information! 

Fundamentals of Dental Retainers

Dental RetainersDental retainers are essential for maintaining the position of teeth after orthodontic treatment. They come in various forms, each designed to suit different needs and preferences.

Purpose and Importance

The primary purpose of dental retainers is to keep teeth in their correct alignment post-braces or other orthodontic adjustments. When teeth are moved, the surrounding bone and gums need time to stabilize.

Retainers provide the necessary support during this critical phase, preventing teeth from relapsing to their original positions.

Overall Benefits

Dental retainers offer several benefits:

  • They ensure long-term results from orthodontic treatment.
  • They help with speech problems and contribute to better oral hygiene by maintaining proper teeth alignment.
  • Fixed retainers can be convenient as they’re non-removable and work continuously.
  • Removable retainers offer flexibility and are easier to clean separately from the teeth.

Types of Fixed Retainers

Fixed retainers are a permanent orthodontic appliance used to maintain the position of teeth following the removal of braces. They are typically glued or bonded directly onto the inner surface of the teeth.

  • Lingual Wire Bonded Retainers

Lingual wire bonded retainers consist of a metal wire that is attached to the interior side of the teeth, effectively hidden from view. 

The bonding material secures the wire directly to each tooth, ensuring it stays in place permanently. This type of retainer is commonly used for the lower front teeth and is favored for its durability and unobtrusiveness.

  • Fixed Palatal Retainers

Fixed palatal retainers are similar in their permanence, but they are used on the upper teeth, typically spanning the palate. Like lingual wire retainers, they are bonded to the teeth, but they take the form of a semi-rigid wire or a mesh pad that covers the roof of the mouth. Their presence is to keep the upper teeth from shifting post-orthodontic treatment.

Types of Removable Retainers

Removable retainers are essential for maintaining the position of teeth after orthodontic treatment. They come in various types, each with specific features and benefits to address different post-treatment needs.

  • Hawley Retainers

Hawley retainers consist of a metal wire that surrounds the teeth and is anchored in an acrylic base that sits on the roof of the mouth. They are durable and have the advantage of being adjustable to fine-tune the teeth’s position. Hawley retainers are often chosen for their longevity and ease of repair.

  • Clear Plastic Retainers

Clear plastic retainers, like the Essix retainer, are made from transparent plastic that fits snugly over the entire arch of teeth. Their transparency makes them less noticeable, offering a cosmetic advantage. They are designed for minimal interference with speech.

  • Advantages: Barely noticeable; does not affect speech significantly
  • Oral Hygiene: Easy to maintain; should be removed for cleaning

This is the type of retainer Smilebliss orthodontists recommend and utilize. 

  • Vacuum-Formed Retainers

Vacuum-formed retainers are similar to clear plastic retainers but are made using a technique that creates a perfect fit by vacuum forming the material around a mold of the patient’s teeth. They serve the same purpose as other clear retainers, offering a discreet way to keep teeth in place.

  • Fit: Customized to the individual’s teeth for a snug fit
  • Visibility: Virtually invisible when worn

Criteria for Choosing Retainers

When selecting a retainer, one must consider their unique dental needs along with how the retainer will fit into their lifestyle. These factors dictate the most suitable type of retainer for each individual.

Assessment of Dental Needs

Type of Orthodontic Treatment: The choice of a retainer is directly influenced by the type of orthodontic treatment the patient has received. For instance, those who have had extensive realignment may require a different type of retainer compared to those who have had minor adjustments.

  • Removable vs. Permanent: Removable retainers are ideal for patients who prefer the flexibility to take out the appliance for eating or cleaning. Permanent retainers, bonded to the teeth, provide continuous correction but require special maintenance. At Smilebliss, we recommend and utilize removable retainers. 
  • Material: Retainers are made from various materials, such as acrylic, plastic, or metal. The patient’s comfort and any allergies to materials need to be considered when choosing the most appropriate retainer.

Patient Lifestyle Considerations

Comfort and Aesthetics: Some retainers are nearly invisible, like clear plastic retainers, catering to patients who prioritize discreetness. Metal retainers are more noticeable but are often more durable.

  • Ease of Maintenance: A patient’s willingness to commit to maintenance should guide the choice between removable and fixed retainers. Removable retainers facilitate easy cleaning, whereas fixed retainers might require more effort to maintain oral hygiene.
  • Durability and Cost: While considering long-term use, the patient should evaluate the durability of the retainer options in relation to their cost. Some may need more frequent replacements, adding to the overall expense.

Maintenance and Care

Woman wearing orthodontic silicone trainerProper maintenance and care are crucial to ensuring the effectiveness and longevity of retainers for dental alignment.

Ignoring these aspects can lead to a decline in oral hygiene and reduce the functional life of the device.

  • Cleaning Techniques

Daily Cleaning: Retainers should be cleaned daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste to prevent plaque buildup. It’s important to brush gently to avoid scratching the clear plastic retainers.

  • Hawley and Metal Retainers:
    • Rinse under lukewarm water, not hot, which can warp the material.
    • Use a denture cleaner or a mild dishwashing soap for a deeper clean, avoiding harsh chemicals.
  • Clear Plastic Retainers:
    • Rinse with lukewarm water.
    • Mix a mild dish soap with water for cleaning, or consider using a baking soda paste for stain removal.

Weekly Soaking: Retainers can benefit from a weekly soak in a denture cleaning solution or a mixture of vinegar and water to disinfect and remove odors.

  • Longevity and Durability

The durability of a retainer is influenced by the material it’s made of and how well it’s maintained.

  • Hawley Retainers:
    • Can last several years with proper care.
    • Inspect regularly for wire distortion and acrylic plate wear.
  • Clear Plastic Retainers:
    • Generally, they need to be replaced more often than Hawley retainers.
    • Monitor for signs of cloudiness or cracks, which indicate it’s time for a replacement.

Avoid exposing retainers to heat, and always store them in a protective case when not in use to prevent damage and maintain their shape. Regular check-ups with an orthodontist will ensure any issues are spotted early and addressed.

Discover the Best Dental Retainer for You With Smilebliss!

At Smilebliss, we’re committed to helping you maintain the stunning results of your orthodontic treatment with the perfect dental retainer.

Our expert team is here to help ensure your smile stays exactly as you love it. Contact Smilebliss now to discover more about our retainer options and secure the future of your smile.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of Hawley retainers?

Hawley retainers are durable and adjustable. However, they can be more noticeable than other types and may affect speech initially.

  • What distinguishes Essix retainers from other types?

Essix retainers are clear and less visible, fitting over the entire arch of teeth. They tend to be less bulky than other retainer types. This is the type of retainer Smilebliss patients receive. 

  • How long can one expect a permanent retainer to last?

Permanent retainers can last many years, often a decade or more, with proper care. The lifespan varies depending on oral hygiene and usage.

  • How should one care for a clear retainer?

Clear retainers should be rinsed with water after removal and cleaned regularly with a soft-bristle toothbrush and non-abrasive cleaner to prevent damage.

  • In what situations would a bonded retainer be the preferred choice?

Bonded retainers are best for cases that require long-term stabilization, such as lower teeth straightening, where retainers need to be worn consistently.

  • What maintenance is required for different retainers after braces?

All retainers require regular cleaning. Removable retainers need daily brushing and soaking, while bonded retainers require careful cleaning around the wire with floss.

Click here to return to top of page arrow leading back to top