Keep your straight teeth from relapsing
An orthodontic retainer is an appliance used to maintain your teeth position after completion of orthodontic treatment. Whereas braces and clear aligners help move and straighten your teeth, retainers help maintain your current teeth position. Typically, you receive a pair of retainers as soon as you finish with your orthodontic treatment. Be sure to wear your retainers as recommended to keep your straight smile! Otherwise, your teeth will slowly shift back to their original position, referred to as orthodontic relapse. Sometimes orthodontic relapse is so bad that you have to redo your entire ortho treatment!
There are three types of orthodontic retainers: (a) Hawley retainers, (b) Essix (clear) retainers and (c) fixed retainers. Here’s what you need to know about each type of retainer:
A Hawley retainer consists of a large acrylic section attached to a metal wire. The arcylic sits inside of your mouth to secure the retainer in place, while the metal wire holds your teeth in their position. Hawley retainers are removable, which means you can take them in and out of your mouth. These are a good option for teenagers who have just completed their braces treatment. You should wear your Hawley retainers all day or during the nights, as per your dentist or orthodontist’s recommendation.
Essix retainer, also referred to as clear retainer, are made from firm, clear plastic which resembles clear aligners. Patients prefer Essix retainers to Hawley retainers because they are less visible, less bulky, and more comfortable to wear. However, clear retainers aren’t as effective at long-term preservation of your tooth position. Plus, clear retainers lose their effectiveness over time and they need to be replaced every few years.
Fixed retainers (metal wire)
Fixed retainers are permanently glued to the back of your front teeth.Whereas Hawley and Essix retainers are removable, fixed retainers are permanently stuck to your teeth, thus the term fixed. Only your dentist can remove these retainers for you. Fixed retainers are a good option for patients who can’t comply with wearing removable retainers. The big disadvantage of fixed retainers is that the teeth which they attach to become difficult to clean.
Each type of retainer has its own advantages and disadvantages. Your dentist or orthodontist will recommend which type of retainers are best for your smile. They take many factors into consideration, such as how crooked your teeth used to be, how long your ortho treatment took, existence of wisdom teeth in your mouth, your oral hygiene, as well as other factors. For example, Hawley retainers work best for teenagers who have just finished their braces treatment. Adults who wear Invisalign® clear aligners usually get clear Essix retainers which have a similar feel to their retainers. Finally, if your ortho case was very complex, if you still have your wisdom teeth, or if you don’t feel like remembering to wear your retainers, then fixed retainers might be your best option.
Removable retainers are very effective in maintaining your teeth position. Of course, that’s only if you wear your retainers like you’re supposed to. Compliance is key with removable retainers. Failure to wear your removable retainers will cause your teeth to shift back to their pre-treatment position. Additionally, most removable retainers lose their effectiveness over time. This means that you may have to replace your removable retainers every few years. Finally, it’s not uncommon to break or lose removable retainers.
The biggest advantage of fixed retainers is that you don’t ever have to worry about wearing your retainers again. This is because fixed retainers are always stuck to your teeth. The biggest disadvantage of fixed retainers is that the teeth supporting them become very difficult to clean. If you don’t diligently clean these teeth, you will develop dental cavities or gum disease. Therefore, it’s very important that you clean around your fixed retainers and maintain periodic dental cleaning. Otherwise, fixed retainers can lead to gum disease and cavities on the supporting teeth.
Call us to learn more about the different types of retainers. You can reach us at (949)481-2540 or book your orthdontic consult online. Our dentist, Dr. Jazayeri, will evaluate your teeth and bite relationship in our San Clemente, Orange County office. We will help you decide which type of retainers are best for your need. Don’t wait until your teeth become crooked because you did’t wear your retainers! Give us a call today and let us help you maintain your straight smile.
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Definition of Cosmetic Dentistry Terminology
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