When braces are finally removed or the Invisalign treatment is finished, the “retention” phase begins for most individuals. The objective of this phase is to ensure the teeth do not regress back to their previous position. A retainer will be used to maintain the improved position of the teeth.
Retainers are worn for varying amounts of time, depending on the type of orthodontic treatment and the age of the patient. Perseverance and commitment are required to make this final stage of treatment successful. If the retainer is not worn as directed, teeth can shift again.
Our office offer two types of retainers:
Hawley retainer – The Hawley retainer consists of a metal wire on an acrylic arch. The metal wire may be periodically adjusted by the orthodontist to ensure the teeth stay in the desired position. The acrylic arch is designed to fit comfortably on the lingual walls or palate of the mouth.
Essix (clear plastic) or Aligner style retainer – Essix retainers look similar to clear aligners and offer a more aesthetic alternative to wire retainers. This clear retainer usually fits over the entire arch of your teeth. It is produced from a mold or scan of your newly aligned teeth.
What do I need to consider when using a retainer?
There are a few basic things to consider for proper use and maintenance of your retainer.
Don’t lose the appliance – Removable retainers can be easy to lose. It is advisable to place your retainer in the case it came in while eating, drinking, and brushing. Leaving a retainer folded in a napkin at a restaurant or in a public restroom can be very costly if lost because a replacement must be created. A brightly colored case serves as a great reminder.
Don’t drink while wearing a retainer – It is tempting to drink while wearing a retainer because of the unobtrusive nature of the device. However, excess liquid trapped under the trays can vastly intensify acid exposure to teeth, increasing the probability of tooth decay.
Don’t eat while wearing a retainer – It can be difficult and awkward to eat while wearing a removable retainer and it can also damage the device. Food can get trapped around a Hawley retainer wire or underneath the palate, causing bad breath.
Clean the retainer properly – It is essential to clean the inside and outside of the retainers daily. Use water and toothbrush to clean them; you can add a small amount of toothpaste to clean your Hawley retainer, but use liquid soap or detergent to clean your Essix type retainer.
Wear the retainer as directed – This phase of treatment is critical. The hard work has been done; the braces are off, and now it is tempting not to wear the retainer as often as the orthodontist recommends. Retainers are needed to give the muscles, tissues, and bones time to stabilize the teeth in their new alignment.
If you have any questions or concerns about retainers, please contact our office.