Types of Retainers
After a patient has achieved straighter teeth with clear aligners (Invisalign) or braces, the last piece of the puzzle is to maintain that dazzling new smile with a retainer.
Burke and Redford Orthodontists offer patients different options when it comes to retainers: bonded retainers (fixed retainers), clear retainers (Invisalign type), and removable retainers, known as Hawley type retainers. Which one is right for you?
Bonded Retainers – AKA "Glued on" or "fixed" retainers
Clear Retainers – AKA Invisalign type retainers
Removable Retainers – AKA Hawley type retainers
What's the Difference?
- Clear retainers (also known as Essix, vacuform, or Invisalign® type of retainer) are an esthetic type of removable retainer that can be taken out for eating and oral care. Burke and Redford will prescribe the number of hours these removable retainers should be worn each day to ensure your teeth do not move after straightening with braces or Invisalign. We recommend this option to retain upper teeth for the majority of our patients as these retainers are retentive, esthetic, and easy to wear. Patients who have been treated with Invisalign clear aligner trays will find this option nearly identical to their experience wearing clear aligners. A qualified orthodontist can help a patient decide if a clear retainer is the best option to maintain their smile. Patients can expect their clear retainer to last between one and three years.
- Traditional Removable retainers (also known as Hawley retainers) are the other take-in take-out retainer option available. As with clear retainers, patients typically begin wearing Hawley retainers full time (except when eating or brushing teeth) for the first two months after braces are removed and then transition to only nightly wear thereafter. The upside to Hawley retainers is their durability. With an average lifespan of 2 to 8 years, these removable retainers are a great option for patients who desire a slightly longer-lasting option.
- Bonded retainers (permanent retainers) are the most retentive type of retainer and recommended in most circumstances for lower teeth after straightening. These fixed retainers are also referred to as glued on or bonded retainers. They are affixed on the back side of a patient’s teeth using a thin metal wire. The wire spans the lower six front teeth and is adhered with an orthodontic adhesive. These retainers are smooth to the tongue and virtually invisible. With lower front teeth being the most prone to relapse (unwanted movement after treatment), bonded retainers are a great solution that require minimal cooperation. Patients can expect a 2 to 10-year life expectancy with this option and are free from the responsibility of removing and replacing retainers. Fixed retainers are only advised in special situations for upper teeth because an ideal overbite would leave little to no room for them on the back surface of these teeth.
In any situation, custom retainers that have been made and checked to fit your your teeth properly by an experienced orthodontist are very important. They will maintain your smile after treatment and are critical to avoiding unwanted tooth movement. Whether patients choose a bonded retainer, a clear retainer, or a Hawley retainer, they can expect to have a favorable outcome.
What About Retainer Wear and Cleaning Instructions?
Wearing a retainer for the first time can take some getting used to. Patients may feel unaccustomed at first, but after a few days, things should return to normal.
Cleaning and maintaining your retainers is similar to the time and effort caring for your own teeth.
- Your retainer can be rinsed or soaked in room temperature water and cleaned with foaming hand soap daily. However, there are additional ways to achieve a deeper clean.
- A deeper clean consists of a gentle scrub with the addition of foaming hand soap or mouth wash. Patients should avoid using toothpaste excessively, as the abrasive ingredients in toothpaste can scratch the surface of the retainer and provide a breeding ground for bacteria. Instead, patients should use a soft bristle toothbrush or a denture brush for cleaning and can opt for a cotton swab to clean those hard to reach areas.
- For those patients seeking a minty fresh feeling, the use of retainer cleaning tablets are a viable option to be used occasionally.
- If white spots begin to appear (which are calcium deposits and tartar buildup), patients can soak their retainers in one part water, one part white vinegar for several minutes, then rinse them in room temperature water.
We are Here to Help
Contact Burke & Redford Orthodontists in Temecula or Lake Elsinore by calling our main office line at (951) 699-8011 or by filling out the Schedule a Consultation form on our website anytime. We will schedule a time that works with your schedule to discuss your individual needs.