Finally, the moment has arrived – you’ve waited a long time (16 to 18 months on average), and you’re ready to let go of your braces and enjoy your ideal smile. However, it’s worth noting that the process of teeth straightening doesn’t stop there. Teeth have a habit of playing tricks on us and yearning for their original placement, which is why if left unchecked, they may undo all of your hard work in no time.
The field of dentistry devised a solution in the form of retainers, a device that keeps the outcomes produced by braces or Invisalign and maintains your teeth straight. The world of tooth retainers, on the other hand, is not as simple as it may appear: “How can I pick out the right retainer?” “How do I maintain my retainer?” “When should I change it?” Our aim at Patuxent Orthodontics is to keep our patients fully informed and help them achieve optimal dental health. So, without further ado, let’s get started on the world of tooth retainers!
DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE TYPES OF RETAINERS?
We start by learning how retainers are classified based on the patient’s needs and requirements:
#1: REGULAR RETAINERS
The top three retainer models that we use at Patuxent Orthodontics are:
- Hawley retainer: The original retention device, Hawley retainers combine hard plastic or acrylic plate with a thin metal wire to create a comfortable retainer. The wire is settled against the front of the patient’s top teeth and can be adjusted if your teeth experience a slight movement after the braces come off.
- Essix retainers: Some of the orthodontists’ favorites, Essix retainers are a clear and removable replacement option for braces. The orthodontist takes impressions of the patient’s mouth and prepares the retainer for the day when braces are removed. As a rule of thumb, after braces are removed, patients wear Essix retainers all day and at nighttime. After six months – a year, patients can usually transition to nighttime wear only. With proper care, they can last for several years.
- Vivera retainers: Next in line, Vivera retainers use the Invisalign technology to deliver superior results to common retainers – in general, they are 30% stronger and two times more durable! This makes Vivera retainers less predisposed to breaking, cracking, and discoloring than other types of clear retainers. Furthermore, they are more comfortable to wear as well!
We can make a unique, precise fit for your teeth with the aid of 3D imaging. We may give you four sets of Vivera retainers after you’ve completed your braces.
#2: SPORTS RETAINERS
Different names, such as “sports guards,” “mouth protectors,” or “mouth guards,” are often associated with this device. However, these terms refer to the same gadget, which protects teeth (generally, the top teeth) from harm by external forces. These tough, tear-resistant devices avert broken teeth and other injuries in sports that require more physical activity (e.g., hockey, football, basketball, etc.). They’re available in a variety of standard forms (less expensive) and bespoke designs created in a high-end laboratory (individually designed).
#3: PERMANENT RETAINERS
Removable retainers are not ideal for everyone, so you have the choice of choosing either temporary or permanent retainers. The latter is made out of a solid yet smooth wire that holds your teeth straight. However, permanent retainer attachments require a specific amount of surface area to work effectively.
Permanent retainers are generally attached to the lower teeth, while removable retainers focus on the top teeth. You can use both sorts of retainers simultaneously, depending on your orthodontist’s instructions.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHICH RETAINER YOU’LL NEED?
It’s not as simple as it may seem to choose the suitable retainer for your needs, and we recommend consulting an orthodontist with whom you can talk more about your choices. To summarize, all retainers effectively keep your smile beautiful; what decides whether you go with long-term or removable ones refers more to the patient. Let’s look at some of these aspects:
- Convenience and maintenance: If you want convenience, permanent retainers are your best option because you won’t have to worry about anything else except essential maintenance and oral care. On the other hand, removable retainers need more attention since they must be cleaned regularly.
- Appearance: Clear or permanent retainers will be a superior alternative to the Hawley retainer if you’re afraid of displaying your retainer in public.
- Durability: For some patients, aesthetic aspects come second to durability. In that case, both permanent and Hawley retainers are the go-to choice.
CARING FOR YOUR RETAINERS BETWEEN USES
Although permanent retainers aren’t particular about maintenance, removable retainers are, and we must give our retainers the same attention as our teeth. Otherwise, bacteria can lead to the formation of plaque and other inconveniences.
Cleaning and moistening your retainers from the start is critical. Add baking soda to the water for a natural yet effective way to keep your retainers clean while eliminating germs. Additionally, tartar build-up may be removed gently through light brushing. Make an effort to incorporate this into your routine at least once a week.
DON’T LOSE THE RETAINER CASE
The retainer case is more than just an accessory for your retainers; it’s also the “home” where they may rest free from germs and other bothersome organisms. If you lose your retainer case, though, keep in mind that a new one is the only alternative. Please do not try to use any others because they will not give your retainers the same level of attention and protection. Instead, contact your orthodontist right away to order a replacement.
WASHING YOUR RETAINER CASE REGULARLY
Make sure that you conduct a complete maintenance routine on your retainer case as well. A 10% bleach solution can help you accomplish this in a matter of minutes. To reduce the number of bacteria, keep both the retainer and the retainer case in the bleach solution for around ten minutes. However, if you feel that your retainer case is too dirty, consult with your orthodontist and request a new one.
WHEN YOU SHOULD REPLACE THE RETAINER
Retainers are subject to the same deterioration that all manufactured things experience, requiring replacement. Like every other manufactured item, retainers are prone to decay and need to be replaced. Some retainers are more durable than others, as we’ve stated previously. For example, Essix retainers, made of plastic, can endure from six months to a few years, while Hawley retainers can last up to ten years if properly cared for. In both cases, good maintenance can lengthen the life of tooth retainers.
GET THE RIGHT RETAINER FOR YOU AT PATUXENT ORTHODONTICS
Retainers, even though they need regular care, are your best ally in preserving the effects of braces. You now have a comprehensive understanding of this issue, so it’s time to choose your tooth retainer and show the world your beautiful smile. Do you have any questions about retainers? Make sure to schedule a complimentary consultation with us and check out our blog for additional information!