Retainers and Orthodontic Treatment

A common misconception surrounding retainers is that they are an orthodontic device that help move teeth into a desired position. Retainers are in fact worn after a patient’s braces are removed and are an essential part of treatment as they prevent teeth from moving back into their original position. It’s essential that patients wear their retainers for the exact time they are instructed to, as a mere few days without it can set your treatment back significantly. So don’t throw away your months and months of wearing braces for a few days forgetting to wear your retainer!


Types of retainer

Retainers can be removable or fixed. The type of retainer you are given by your orthodontist depends on several factors and in some cases, people will be instructed to wear more than one kind of retainer in order to prevent teeth from relapsing.

The three most popular types of retainer are Vacuum-formed retainer, bonded retainer and Hawley retainer. Below is some information on each…


Vacuum-formed retainer

This type of retainer is typically worn part-time. Initially it grips your teeth tightly though most people adapt to this with ease. These are one of the most popular types of retainers with patients as they’re comfortable and easy to wear. They are made from a sheet of clear plastic and have a similar shape to a  sports gum shield.


Bonded retainer

A fixed type of retainer, the bonded retainer is hidden on the inside of your teeth obscured from view. This type of retainer frees you from having to remember the placing in and taking out. It is important however, to clean it thoroughly as it never leaves your mouth, it is more susceptible to build up of bacteria.


Hawley retainer

This is probably one of the strongest retainers and works by having a plastic part that fits behind your palate behind upper teeth or lower teeth. When wearing a Hawley retainer, you will have a metal wire across your front teeth which helps keep them in a fixed position. It’s possibly that this type of aligner will affect your speech for a short time.


Cleaning removable retainers

It is very important to keep retainers free from bacteria and food particles, as these can build up and cause tooth decay and plaque. It’s a good idea to avoid applying toothpaste straight onto the retainers as this can cause them to go brittle and turn them opaque. Try to floss to keep particles away.

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