Preserving and stabilizing the results of your orthodontic treatment is known as “retention” and the appliances used for this purpose are called “retainers”. It is our goal to give you a smile that will be long-lasting so retainers will be a critical part of your treatment.
There are two major kinds of orthodontic retainers. A removable retainer is one that can be taken in and out of the mouth, while a permanent retainer is fixed or bonded to the back of the teeth. Before removing your braces our orthodontist will explain which of the available retainer options you will need to maintain your smile.
Removable retainers come in two forms. A Hawley retainer is the most traditional orthodontic retainer. It is typically an acrylic based appliance with a single wire that sits in front of the teeth to maintain the corrections. The other type of removable retainer is a clear plastic “invisible” retainer, which is called an Essix retainer. This retainer looks similar to a clear custom bleaching tray or dental aligner. It is fabricated to precisely fit over the teeth and prevent any unwanted shifting. While a Hawley retainer has the advantages of being more durable and easy to adjust, an Essix retainer is less visible.
In most cases a fixed retainer will be recommended to maintain a corrected smile. A fixed retainer is a flat thin wire that is attached to the back of the front teeth. It remains in place all of the time and does not show when you smile. We recommend this type of retainer when there’s a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position, especially true for the lower front teeth or when front spaces existed before treatment. A fixed retainer provides the best long-term stability.
At the time your retainers are inserted, we will provide you with detailed guidelines for wearing these appliances as well as directions as to how to clean and care for them.