What are the types of retainers?
means to keep in place; therefore, an orthodontic
retainer is used to keep your teeth in their new positions
after your braces come off. Most orthodontists use one of
these three types of retainers:
clear plastic retainer (also called an Essix
is sometimes placed on the upper teeth one or two
days after the braces are removed. It resembles the
Invisalign appliance. It is normally worn only at night and
lasts an average of 24 months. After it wears out the
orthodontist may replace it with a traditional wire
retainer. Some people have commented that this type of
retainer can be uncomfortable.
bonded retainer is normally placed behind the lower
teeth after the braces are removed. It is a wire
"permanently" bonded to the teeth with composite material.
Sometimes this type of retainer is used for the upper teeth,
but usually this is not possible because it would interfere
with your bite. A bonded retainer will remain in place for
wire retainer (also called a Hawley Retainer)
is normally placed after discontinuing use of either
the clear retainer or bonded retainer. This type of retainer
has the added benefit of being adjustable so that minor
tooth movement is possible. Sometimes a wire retainer can be
worn full time instead of braces to correct mild crowding.
As you can see, the plastic part of the retainer can be made
in a variety of colors and patterns.
Do I have
to wear a retainer after my braces come off?
answer is: YES, absolutely!
The long answer is: It
takes many months for your periodontal ligaments and bone to
"remember" the new position of your teeth and keep them in
place. The retainer helps keep them in their proper new
positions. It's important to wear the retainer exactly as
your dentist/orthodontist recommends. Otherwise, your teeth
may shift, especially if you stop wearing your retainer in
the first two years after your braces come off.
people wear their retainer 24/7 for at least 6 months to a
year after the braces first come off. Of course, you must
take your retainer out to eat or to to brush your teeth. Be
sure to carry a
case with you to store your retainer when it is not in
your mouth. Keep a few handy -- in your car, your purse, at
retainers have been lost in napkins at restaurants or school
and thrown in the trash. A new retainer can cost as much as
$300! There are also special
Maintainer" plastic bags with a "don't throw this out"
symbol to use in a pinch. These are easy to stuff in your
pocket, purse, or backpack "just in case."
After the initial period is
over, your orthodontist will probably tell you that you can
switch to wearing your retainer only at night. Be sure to
wear it EVERY night for at least 4 to 6 additional months.
After that, if everything seems stable, you can probably
switch to wearing it only several nights per week (always be
sure to ask your orthodontist what he or she recommends).
If you totally stop wearing
your retainer, even after a few years, your teeth may begin
to move and shift. This is especially true if you have
tongue thrust issues or have had extractions. Unless you
want crooked teeth again, or want to go back into braces,
wear your retainer regularly for the rest of your life -- at
least a couple of nights each week! This isn't as bad as it
sounds. It just becomes part of your life -- another way to
ensure that your smile stays beautiful and healthy!
If your retainer breaks, call
your orthodontist immediately to have another one made. If
you can't afford a new one, discuss this with your
orthodontist and try to set up a payment plan or work out a
How do I
keep my retainer clean?
clean your retainer each night as directed by your
orthodontist. If you are wearing your retainer around the
clock, rinse it with warm water after taking it out of your
mouth, and also before putting it back in later! This will
help prevent bacterial buildup.
You can brush a Hawley retainer with a
toothbrush and a tiny bit of toothpaste, but that is not
for a clear Essix retainer, as it can get scratched.
Brushing also gets tiresome after a while. The most
convenient way to keep your retainer clean is to use a
product made for this purpose, or to use denture cleaner.
specialty products are available to help keep your retainers
clean and free of odor. Four such products are
Cleanse.Freshen.Go. They work great on all types of
retainers and even clear Invisalign -type aligners.
SonicBrite includes a portable sonic cleaner. Retainer Brite
is a tablet which can be used with or without a sonic
cleaner (sold separately). In both these products, the sonic
cleaner helps the product to reach all the little crevices
in your retainer, cleaning out all the bacteria and
dissolving all of the white buildup.
works with cold water and one batch can be used for an
entire week. Cleanse.Freshen.Go. makes convenient
retainer cleaning wipes and and an instant cleaning spray
which you can take with you "on the go." Both DentaSoak and
Cleanse.Freshen.Go. do not contain the chemical Persulfate,
which causes some people to have an allergic reaction. So,
if you're looking for a retainer cleaner which is
Persulfate-free, these two would be a good choice.