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What are orthodontic retainers?

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Example of an upper Hawley retainer.

Retainers function to maintain your teeth position after completion of orthodontic treatment. Whereas braces straighten your teeth, orthodontic retainers maintain your straight teeth over time. If you don’t wear your retainers, your teeth slowly shift back to their original position. In fact, occasionally the relapse is so bad that you may want to redo your orthodontic treatment! Wearing your retainers regularly helps prevent your teeth from relapsing.

What are the different types of retainers?

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Example of three different types of retainers.

There are three basic types of orthodontic retainers, which are Hawley retainers, Essix retainers and fixed retainers. Here is a bit more information about each one: 

  • Hawley Retainers: These retainers are made from acrylic and use metal wires to hold your teeth position. Hawley retainers are removable, which means they go in and out of your mouth. You need to wear them throughout the day, based upon your dentist or orthodontist’s recommendation. These retainers work very well and are especially a good option for teenagers who have just completed orthodontic work. 
  • Essix Retainers: We make Essix retainers from firm, clear plastic which makes them less visible and more comfortable than Hawley retainers. An example of an Essix retainer is the Vivera retainer, made by Invisalign. Vivera retainers are made from proprietary plastic and are very effective in preventing teeth movement.
  • Fixed Retainers: These retainers are permanently glued onto the back of your front 4 to 6 teeth. Fixed retainers are ideal for people who have a hard time wearing removable retainers or aren’t as disciplined. 

Which retainer is best for me?

Each retainer has its pros and cons. Only you and your dentist can determine which retainer is going to work best for you. Removable retainers are very effective, but compliance can be an issue. Plus, removable retainers, especially Essix retainers, lose their effectiveness over time and need to be replaced. You can also break or lose these retainers which means you may have to purchase multiple retainers.

The biggest advantage of fixed retainers is that they are always on your teeth. This means that you don’t have to worry about forgetting to wear your retainers.The obvious disadvantage of fixed retainers is that they make it difficult to clean your anchoring teeth. If neglected, you could develop localized gum problems, cavities and bad breath. Therefore, it is very important that you clean fixed retainers daily and maintain your regular dental cleanings.

How can you help me with my retainers in San Clemente?

If you would like to learn more about different types of retainer or need a new retainer, give us a call today. Call us at (949) 481-2540 or book an online appointment with us today. Our dentist, Dr. Jazayeri, will access your bite to determine which type of retainer is best for you. Don’t wait until your teeth become crooked, give us a call today to maintain your beautiful, straight smile!

To learn more about different orthodontic treatments, click on the following links: