Retainer Options After Braces

Most major orthodontic work requires two phases. The first phase is the braces, which actively move your teeth into the proper position. The second phase is the retainer wear. The retainer is designed to keep the recently aligned teeth in place until you build up sufficient bone mass to "lock" your teeth into permanent alignment. When it comes to retainers, there are three main options.

Lingual Retainer

Lingual retainers are also sometimes called permanent retainers because you can not remove them without a visit to the dentist. These retainers are typically bonded to the back of the teeth with dental cement so that most of the wires aren't visible. Although they are called permanent, your dentist will eventually remove them once your teeth are fixed in place. Although simpler to wear since you don't have to worry about removing and keeping track of the retainer, you do have to brush and floss carefully as these retainers can trap food particles.

Hawley Retainer

A Hawley retainer is what most people think of when considering a retainer. These are the standard removable retainers with a plastic piece that fits the roof of your mouth and wires that wrap around your teeth. They are custom-fitted to your mouth, so they are quite comfortable to wear. These retainers can also be used to make minor corrections without the need for full braces. The main drawback is you must take them out whenever you eat or drink anything but water. Further, the retainer is also visible, which some people don't like. You must also clean them nightly, but this is simply done with a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Clear Retainer

Clear retainers are becoming more and more popular, especially for adults that are having orthodontic work completed. Much like clear braces, clear retainers consist of a plastic tray that is placed over the teeth in order to hold them in place. The only real drawback to clear retainers is that they can become stained, so it is imperative to not eat or drink when wearing them. Further, you should brush or at least rinse out your mouth before replacing the retainer to ensure that it doesn't become stained. These retainers must only be cleaned with warm water and soft bristle toothbrush, as toothpaste can scratch them so that the retainer is no longer clear.

Contact an orthodontics clinic in your area to find out the best retainer for your teeth and lifestyle.