Different Types of Retainers

Close up; Dental retainer orthodontic appliance

The big day is finally in sight, your teeth have straightened and your braces are about to come off! And then your dentist says “Let’s discuss the different types of retainers available to you”.

That’s right, removing your braces isn’t the end of it. Retainers need to be worn for at least six months after your braces come off to make sure your teeth don’t try to move back to their original position and the improvements to your smile become permanent. But it’s not so bad, all types of retainers, after braces, are relatively comfortable.

Types of Retainers

Retainers fall into two categories, permanent and removable. Your orthodontist will give you advice on which is most suitable for your condition or may suggest a combination of retainers types, usually permanent for the bottom teeth and removable for the top. There are also different options to choose from in removable retainers, so now we’ll give you an overview of the types and look at the pros and cons of each.

Permanent Retainers: Pros and Cons

This type of retainer is made up of a wire, either solid or braided, which is fitted to the inside of your front teeth and cemented in place. They’re usually used on the lower front teeth and are also called fixed, lingual wire or bonded retainers. Only your dentist can put them in place and remove them.

Permanent retainer pros:

  • You don’t have to worry about following instructions for use.
  • Other people can’t see them.
  • It won’t interfere with your speech.
  • You can’t lose it.
  • It won’t damage easily.

Permanent retainer cons:

  • It can make maintaining oral hygiene more difficult.
  • It’s fixed to your teeth, which some people don’t like.
  • It can irritate the tongue, especially until you get used to it.

Dentist tools and orthodontic model

Removable Retainers: Pros and Cons.

As there are two types of a removable retainer, first we’ll look at the general pros and cons, and then the specifics of each type.

Removable retainer pros:

  • They can be removed for eating and cleaning your teeth, making good oral hygiene easier.
  • Usually cheaper than permanent

Removable retainer cons:

  • They often get lost, especially by children.
  • They can be easily damaged.
  • They can make your mouth water from excess saliva production.
  • If not cleaned properly they can become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

 

The two removable retainer types are:

1. Hawley (also called Wire) and

2. Clear plastic retainers.

Hawley retainers use a wire attached to a plastic or acrylic shield that is shaped to the roof of your mouth, the wire runs along the outside of the teeth and holds them in place. 

Advantages of this type are:

  • It is adjustable
  • More durable than plastic ones
  • Can be repaired if damaged
  • Allows the upper and lower teeth to touch naturally

Disadvantages are:

  • More noticeable than other types.
  • Can affect the speech more than other types.
  • Can be hard to get used to.

Clear plastic retainers are molded to fit the position of your teeth perfectly.

Advantages are:

  • It is almost invisible.
  • Smaller and more comfortable than a Hawley retainer.
  • Less likely to affect speech.

Disadvantages are:

  • It can’t be adjusted.
  • If it is broken it can’t be repaired.
  • It can warp if exposed to too much heat.
  • It can become discolored and more visible with time.
  • Your top and bottom teeth can’t touch naturally.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to each type of retainer. If you’re not sure which is right for you, book an appointment with us here at Doral Sedation Dentistry and we’ll be able to help you make the best choice for your particular needs and preferences.

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