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Different Types of Retainers

Completing your orthodontic treatment is a great feeling. Getting your braces off feels amazing and freeing. And the fact that you have wonderfully gorgeous straight teeth is also pretty cool. Once you enjoy that feeling for a few minutes, it will be time for your orthodontist to talk with you about the different types of retainers. The retainer is likely the final piece of your ortho journey.

Although your teeth are now mostly hardware-free, they have yet to attain complete independence. They still need some help to stay in place so that you don’t undo all the work from the months you spent getting straight teeth.

For any orthodontic help for you or your family, check out Smiles for Life. Our experienced and friendly staff can answer your questions and get a plan in place for your beautiful smile.

Cleaning and Maintenance

No matter which type of retainer your orthodontist suggests, you will need to be careful to clean it properly. Your doctor will go over instructions for cleaning, and you should take the time to ask any questions you can think of about your new retainer. 

Brush your retainer regularly with a toothbrush and water. Check with your orthodontist if it’s ok to use toothpaste. Some materials can develop scratches when you use toothpaste, and the scratches can harbor bacteria.

Your orthodontist might also suggest a retainer cleaner. These options are usually in a tablet or powder form. You add them to water and soak the retainer in the solution according to package directions. Talk with your doctor to see if you should use something like this for your retainer.

Hang Onto It!

Helpful obvious hint: retainers are not free. Typically, your orthodontic fee covers your initial retainer. But if you lose it or damage it, you will have to pay for a replacement. 

Generally speaking, at least when you first get the retainer, you should wear it around the clock except when you are eating. Here are some tips to make sure you hang onto yours, keep it in good shape, and avoid dumpster diving:

  • Do not place it on a cafeteria tray. You can almost guarantee it will end up in the trash. The same goes for fast food trays. (Anyone else ever dig through a DQ garbage can before?)
  • Do not place a napkin over it in an attempt to be discreet. Again, this leaves your retainer destined for the garbage can.
  • Keep it away from pets.
  • When you are eating, consider tucking it safely into a purse or pocket to avoid accidentally throwing it away. Better yet, put it in its case first.
  • Keep it out of direct heat. Retainers left in hot cars or near other heat sources can melt.

Different Types of Retainers for Today’s Straight Teeth

As orthodontic care has changed and evolved over the years, so have the different types of retainers you have available. Your orthodontist may decide which choice is best for you, or they might leave the decision up to you. Here are the usual options for you to consider.

Hawley Wire Retainers

The Hawley wire choice is what most people think of as a retainer. These are the ones with the hard plastic piece that forms to the palate. And they have a wire attached that goes around the teeth. Today’s Hawley retainers come with the choice of colorful plastic to make them a little more noticeable if they are sitting next to a dinner plate. 

This type of retainer is removable, which is why it so often ends up the subject of a garbage searching expedition. You must remove it before eating, so you have to take extra care not to lose it.  

Some benefits to having this style of retainer:

  • They have staying power and are built to last.
  • They are relatively simple to fix and adjust.
  • They allow the bite to settle.
  • They can have a fun color. Add a bit of personality to your newest fashion accessory.
  • They are simple to clean and maintain.

These standard and go-to retainers do have some drawbacks to keep in mind:

  • They are visible in the mouth. There is no hiding the wire.
  • They are simple to lose. 
  • They do not protect against teeth grinding since the biting surfaces remain exposed.
  • They are costly to replace.
  • They can give teeth room to move a little bit.
  • They can feel uncomfortable against the palate at first.

Clear Plastic Retainers

This type of retainer is a modern evolution of orthodontic care. It will do the best job of keeping your teeth in their new positions. Here are some other benefits of choosing a clear plastic retainer:

  • They prevent the wearing down of teeth due to grinding.
  • They are just about invisible.
  • They are not as expensive to replace as other styles.
  • They can be corrective. If your teeth shift a bit over time, the clear plastic retainers can help move them back in place.

And the disadvantages of these retainers?

  • They are not as strong as other types since they are made of plastic.
  • Their nearly invisible nature makes them extremely easy to misplace. Take our word for it.
  • Over time, the plastic can discolor, adding a yellow tint to your teeth when you wear the retainer.

Permanent Retainers

This last type of retainer is bonded directly to your teeth. Do you have problems with losing things? Problem solved! This durable option offers a few critical benefits:

  • They can’t accidentally end up in the trash.
  • They have a very long life span.
  • They are not visible to others unless they are getting really up close and personal.

There are a couple of drawbacks to permanent retainers. 

  • They are harder to clean and maintain and require more work for brushing and flossing than do other retainers.
  • They can feel irritating to your tongue at first.
  • They are not removable.

Smiles for Life Is Ready to Serve You

With the renowned Dr. Machado at the helm, Smiles for Life is eager to help you achieve your dream smile. Reach out today for your complimentary consultation.

American Dental Association American Association of Orthodontists Texas Association of Orthodontists Southwestern Society of Orthodontists