Once you are done wearing braces or Invisalign aligners, you’ll get to unveil your beautiful new smile. However, your work still isn’t quite finished. An essential part of orthodontic correction is maintaining the progress your teeth have made by wearing a retainer. Not everyone will get the same type of retainer since each person’s needs will be different, and each type of retainer is made in a different way.
A bonded retainer, otherwise known as a lingual retainer or fixed retainer, is a type of retainer that stays in place once it is installed. Some patients may start out with this retainer for a set amount of time before switching to another kind of retainer. While this retainer does have some disadvantages, namely, the fact that you can’t remove the retainer for meals or brushing and flossing, it does stay out of sight since it is attached to the back of your teeth. You also won’t lose it or forget to wear it.
This type of retainer uses a metal strip glued to the back of your teeth to keep them in place. To make this retainer, a scan is taken of your new smile and the retainer is made to fit to create enough pressure to keep your teeth in their new positions without shifting them any further. The retainer is then attached to the back of your teeth using a medical-grade adhesive.
A Hawley retainer is the oldest type of removable retainer. It combines a metal wire that goes around the front of your teeth and a plastic piece that fits against the roof of your mouth. Unlike a fixed retainer, a Hawley retainer is removable for meals and teeth cleaning. The amount of time you’ll need to wear your retainer each day will vary based on your teeth and how long it has been since you finished treatment. Some patients only need to wear them at night after a few months, but you will most likely be required to wear them for most of the day at first, which can be a drawback since they are more visible than fixed retainers.
To make this type of retainer, an impression is taken of the roof of your mouth and sculpted to create a plastic mold that fits snugly. Then a metal wire is bent to fit snugly around the front of your teeth.
This is another type of removable retainer and it is very similar to wearing Invisalign clear aligners. Like Invisalign aligners, clear retainers are practically invisible and easily removable for meals and oral hygiene practices. Even though you may be required to wear these all day at first, they are completely clear and won’t diminish the appearance of your new smile.
This type of retainer also starts off with a scan of your new smile so it can be made to fit your teeth. Then, an exact mold of your teeth is made. The medical-grade plastic is then folded over the surface of this mold to create your clear retainer.
Whatever type of retainer your orthodontist recommends, it’s important to follow their instructions on how long to wear it each day and how to keep it clean and safe to maintain your new healthy smile.