Your years of wearing dental braces have finally paid off! Once the braces come off, your teeth will be free. For the first time in years, you’ll be able to run your tongue over your teeth’s smooth surfaces, floss easily and eat whatever you want … but don’t get too comfortable yet, because now it’s time to wear an orthodontic retainer.
Before your sigh of relief becomes a sigh of despair, read on — an orthodontic, or dental, retainer is well worth it!
A dental retainer is custom-made orthodontic appliance used to keep teeth in place after dental braces are removed. Once your braces come off, your teeth need to settle into the jawbone and soft tissue that hold them in place.
Made of wire and plastic or rubber, retainer keep your teeth from wandering and wasting thousands of dollars worth of orthodontic work! Teeth can also shift over time, making wearing a retainer even more important.
What’s Your Type?
There are two types of orthodontic retainers: fixed and removable. Removable retainer can be taken off to eat or brush your teeth.
They will be worn full time for about a year, and then worn only at night once your orthodontist or dentist gives you the go-ahead. Fixed retainer is permanently glued to your teeth and can only be removed by your dentist. When designing your retainer, you can choose among one of the following:
The most common type of dental retainer. Hawley retainers consist of a plastic base that adheres to the shape of your mouth. This is connected to a wire that wraps around your teeth, keeping them in place.
Essix retainers are made of clear plastic and resemble Invisalign® or teeth whitening trays. Some patients prefer Essix retainers because most people can’t tell you’re wearing one, but they don’t have the life span of Hawley retainers.
Often called fixed or permanent retainers, these are cemented to the back of your teeth to keep them in place.