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Different Types of Orthodontic Retainers

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Have you ever worn braces, or do you know anyone who wears braces? After completing your orthodontic treament, you will have to wear retainers to keep your teeth straight. This article tells you everything you need to know about wearing retainers after an orthodontic treament.

What are retainers?

Retainers are dental appliances that orthodontists use after the removal of braces or attachments of clear aligners. Retainers are considered an important component of the orthodontic treatment to ensure your smile last a long time. The orthodontist typically decides by the end of the treatment which retainer is the best suitable option for each patient.

How long do you have to wear a retainer after braces?

Orthodontists mainly employ retainers to prevent the relapse of teeth. The use of retainers after the removal of braces or attachments is crucial to prevent your teeth from shifting back to their previous place. 


Some orthodontists recommend using full-time retainers for six months, while others recommend it for at least one year. In any case, retainer wear is a lifetime commitment. This is because, as you age, your teeth always want to move. A retainer is the best tool to keep your teeth straight. You are risking your teeth to move or relapse if the retainers are not worn as instructed. 


Types of retainers

There are different types of retainers available for use in the market. However, there is no ‘perfect” retainer. Each retainer presents its use and comes with several pros and cons. Orthodontists choose retainers depending on the requirement of the ongoing dental treatment. 


Clear removable retainer

Orthodontists most commonly use these retainers. It is the easiest and most cosmetically pleasing retainer. It is clear and easy to put on or remove. This is the main reason for its popularity amongst patients as well as orthodontists. It is just like the Invisalign tray. They are clear in appearance, so you will have no esthetic concerns in regards to facial appearances. The clear retainer is very patient-friendly in regards to its application and removal. However, it may stain and need replacement, especially if you grind or clench your teeth.


Hawley removable retainer

These retainers are removable and are made of a thin metal wire attached to a plastic or acrylic component designed to fit the roof of the mouth. In other words, it is durable. However, it may create speech lisping and may feel bulky in the mouth. It may take more time to get used to than a clear retainer. The esthetic appearance of the retainer is also a major concern. The metal wire that runs across the facial surfaces of the anterior teeth may be concerning for some patients. 


Fixed retainer

It is a great retainer. These retainers are commonly used as lingual retainers which means it is glued to the backside of your teeth. Orthodontists use composite material to glue these retainers such that they can’t be removed by the patient themselves. The best part about these retainers; it is invisible, and you don't have to think or remember to wear it.  In this aspect, these are considered as one of the best retainers. However, it takes more discipline to clean around it and maintain its integrity. It may break if you're careless with eating.


One thing that you must remember, your retainer can easily break! Especially if you are chewing some hard food item. Here is what you must do!


What happens if my fixed retainer breaks?

You may need a replacement. Talk to your orthodontist regarding this matter.

Fixed retainer removal

Fixed retainers often require the use of dental drilling to remove the appliances. Hence, it is best to ask your orthodontist to remove it. It is highly recommended not to remove it yourself. 

How much does a retainer cost?

It depends on the type of retainer and the area where you live. In general, it ranges from $300 -$700 each. Permanent retainers range from $225 to $550 for one arch only. 


Time to decide which retainers are the best!


Glued-on/fixed vs. removable retainers

Both of these retainers are highly effective to use. Since they all work equally, so it may come down to your personal choice. Fixed retainers are often used since many individuals don't want to think about removing and replacing a retainer. Similarly, some people don't mind spending extra time cleaning their glued-on retainer. 


However, some people like the removable option because they don't want anything glued to their teeth. Moreover, some patients consider it easier to maintain good oral hygiene and clean their teeth without interference from a fixed appliance. So the choice is completely yours!

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