Orthodontic retainers are an essential part of the orthodontic treatment process. They help to hold the teeth in their newly aligned position after the braces are removed, ensuring that the desired results of treatment are maintained long-term.
There are several different types of orthodontic retainers, each with its own unique benefits and drawbacks.
- Fixed retainers: These are thin wires that are bonded to the back of the front teeth, similar to braces. They provide a high level of stability, but they can be difficult to clean if not done so following your orthodontists instructions.
- Removable retainers: These are made of a clear plastic material that fits over the teeth and can be removed for cleaning. They are more comfortable than fixed retainers, but they may not provide as much stability.
- Hawley retainers: These are an "older" style of removable retainer. They are made of an acrylic body with a wire that wraps around the front teeth. They can be adjusted to fit the wearer's mouth, but they may be more noticeable than other types of retainers.
- Essix retainers: These are the most common types of removable retainers. These are similar to Hawley retainers, but they are made of a clear plastic material that covers the entire teeth. They are virtually invisible, but they may not provide as much stability as other types of retainers.
Regardless of the type of retainer chosen, it is important to wear the retainer as directed by the orthodontist. In the early stages of treatment, the retainer should be worn full-time, and then gradually reduced to nighttime wear as the teeth become more stable.
Failing to wear the retainer as directed can lead to the teeth shifting back to their original position, negating the benefits of treatment. It is also important to clean the retainer regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria and plaque.
In conclusion, orthodontic retainers are an important part of the treatment process and play a crucial role in maintaining the results of treatment. It is essential to wear the retainer as directed and to clean it regularly to ensure the best possible outcome.
NOTE: The author, Dr. Graydon Carr, is a board-certified orthodontist who is in the private practice of orthodontics in Chico, California with his partner Dr. B. Scott Hood. Dr. Graydon Carr was trained at the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, California, and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas School of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Dr. Graydon Carr & Dr. B. Scott Hood’s are experts in two-phase treatment, extraction and non-extraction therapy, functional orthodontics, clear aligners (Invisalign), and multiple bracket systems. This blog is for informational purposes only and is designed to help consumers understand currently accepted orthodontic concepts. It is not a venue for debating alternative treatment theories. Dr. B. Scott Hood & Dr. Graydon Carr are licensed to diagnose and treat patients in the state of California. They cannot diagnose cases described in comments nor can they select treatment plans for readers. The opinions expressed here are protected by copyright laws and can only be used with written permission from the author.