Once your active orthodontic treatment is complete, we will begin the retention phase of your treatment. Your final orthodontic result depends equally on your efforts throughout treatment and the retention phase of treatment. This phase, like all orthodontic treatment, is patient specific and tailored to your individual needs. There are several different kind of retainers:
Fixed retainers are bonded to the lingual (back, toward the tongue) surface of the teeth to hold the teeth in place. It may be bonded to only two teeth or a series of teeth. It is most commonly used on the lower front six teeth and the top two to four teeth to keep spaces closed and teeth from relapse (further unwanted movement). We use the strongest dental “glue” available but it is important to remember to still take care not to bite into anything extremely hard. It is important to brush, floss, and visit your dentist for a regular, professional cleaning to maintain the effectiveness of this type of retainer. We will consult with you and your dentist to decide if and when it should ever need to be removed.
There are two main types of Removable retainers. The “clear” or “invisalign type” retainer is called the Essix retainer. The other type is the “wire” retainer with the wire in the front and acrylic color on the roof of the mouth (palate) called the Hawley retainer.
Essix or “invisalign or invisible” Retainer
The Essix retainer is a transparent, “invisalign type” removable retainer that fits over the entire arch of teeth. It is fabricated by heating a thermoplastic material over a model of the patient’s teeth. This retainer is more rigid than an “invisalign” tray as it is designed to retain your orthodontic result.
Hawley or “wire” Retainer
The Hawley retainer is the traditional wire and acrylic retainer that is still widely used for orthodontic retention. In general, it is more durable over time and a little more adjustable than the Essix type retainer. Today it is mostly used for night time retention.
The Care of your Orthodontic Retainers:
Your retainers can last for many years depending on how well you care for them. However, it is important to understand that retainers, like eye glasses, need to be replaced periodically as they can wear out over time. It is important to follow all instructions regarding the wear and care of your retainers for the most ideal result.
In general, the full time wear of your retainers means they should be worn at all times with the exception of eating and brushing your teeth. You can drink ONLY WATER with your retainers in place. Your retainers should also be removed when participating in sports that require a mouthguard or while swimming.
You must be very careful when handling your retainers, as they are fragile and costly to replace. You are given a special case for your retainer; please make sure you keep them in this case when not wearing them. Do not take your retainers into a restaurant or social activities and NEVER wrap them in a Napkin or a Tissue. You or someone else will throw them away.
To clean your retainers, brush them with a mild antibacterial soap using lukewarm water (not HOT). Rinse thoroughly before placing them back in your mouth. You also may soak them in a retainer or denture cleaner, in lukewarm but NOT HOT water, once a week to freshen them up. Hot water can distort your retainers, rendering them useless. If you need to “disinfect” your retainers, we recommend you brush them with the antibacterial soap and soak them in 1:1 ratio of lukewarm water and mouthwash. If you have any questions regarding the care of your retainers, please ask one of our team members.