Types of Retainers:
There are three main types of retainers. Patients may receive more than one type of retainer as their teeth grow. Let your dentist if you have a preference for a certain type of retainer!
Fixed: As the name suggests, there are metal bands on the back of these retainers that are fixed to the back of the teeth by a special adhesive. They are molded to fit the mouth perfectly and consist of silver bands placed over the front of the top and bottom teeth. The silver bands place pressure on the teeth to ensure they stay in position. This is a semi-permanent option that orthodontists often recommend during the first few months after the braces come off for younger patients. Like braces, they are extremely effective because they aren’t removable, but like braces, they can also be difficult to clean. Your dentist can remove them and give you a new type of retainers if this becomes too much of a problem.
Hawley: These are the most popular type of retainers. They are exactly like fixed retainers, except they’re not fixed! A well-fitting Hawley retainer should fit snugly in your mouth and place a little pressure on the teeth. The benefit of Hawley retainers is that that they are completely removable, so you can take them off to eat, drink, or brush your teeth.
Clear: Unlike Hawley or fixed retainers, clear retainers are not made with metal or acrylic. Instead, they are fashioned out of a type of clear plastic that make them very discreet. They are very similar to Invisalign, but they are not meant to change the alignment of your teeth. Like the other retainers, they’re used to retain the shape of the teeth as they are. Clear retainers can be a little difficult to talk with because they completely cover the teeth. If they are too uncomfortable, ask your orthodontist to switch to another type of retainer.
How to Use Retainers:
After you get your braces, the orthodontist will give you a pair of retainers to ensure your teeth and jaws stay correctly aligned. Without retainers, teeth can easily shift back to their original positions.
Most orthodontists will recommend patients wear their retainers full-time for the first year after they get their braces off. Full-time means literally all the time unless you need to eat or brush your teeth. The reason for this is that the teeth and bones need time to adjust to their new placements. Without a retainer, they could easily revert to their original positioning, undoing all your (and your orthodontist’s) hard work! After approximately a year, the orthodontist will let you know when you’re ready to stop wearing retainers full-time. At this point, you can just wear them at night when you’re sleeping. It is important to continue to use retainers every night for at least 6 hours, so your teeth stay straight. Because your body is always growing and evolving, you will probably need to wear retainers for the rest of your life to keep your teeth straight.
Using retainers is actually quite easy! You just slide them on and off your teeth. Fixed retainers are even easier to use – you don’t have to touch them at all. Make sure you’re wearing and cleaning your retainers regularly for the best results possible. If you notice your retainers are getting uncomfortably tight, you may not be wearing them enough. This could be a sign that your teeth have shifted. Not to worry, your orthodontist can help you get back on track. They can always adjust your retainers and give tips for a better smile!
Unlike braces, retainers do require a little more maintenance. If you’ve ever had Invisalign, you’ll understand what we mean! Since most retainers are removable, they’re also much more susceptible to getting lost or infected. Here are our tips for taking care of your retainers:
- Always place your retainers in their case when you’re not using them. Placing retainers in a napkin or plate can obscure them from view, leading someone to accidentally throw them away. They can easily wind up in the washing machines or dishwashers, too! We recommend always putting them in their case, so you know exactly where they are at all times.
- Place your retainers in a safe place. You definitely don’t want your baby sister or dog damaging your retainers, so keep them somewhere safe.
- Keep your retainers out extreme temperatures. Heat is particularly bad for retainers because it can disfigure the acrylic or metal, resulting in an improper guide for your teeth! You definitely don’t want to be placing your beautiful teeth in a crooked retainer.
- Leave them in a cleansing solution. Wet retainers are a paradise for germs and bacteria. Instead of keeping them in a damp, dark box all day, soak them in a distilled water solution. Vinegar or castile soap will keep them fresh when you’re ready to use them at night!
- Brush your retainers. Retainers can become calcified with your saliva if you don’t clean them regularly. To avoid dirty retainers, brush them with a toothbrush and water or soap daily. No need for toothpaste; it won’t have the same effect on your retainers as it does on your teeth.
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Visit us! Smiles Orthodontics
PH: 316-684-5184 LOCATION: 7015 E. Central, Wichita, KS.