An orthodontic journey does not start and end with braces. After your one or two year process of wearing braces is over, the next stage of treatment is retention. Once the braces are removed, it is important to maintain the results the braces have achieved, instead of leaving the teeth to shift back into their previous positions.
In this retention phase, the patient is required to wear a type of retainer for a minimum of 24 months.
The Different Types of Retainers
The Hawley retainer is a common example of a removable retainer. It is made of metal wires and sturdy acrylic that keep your teeth in place. The Hawley retainer is custom made for a patient from impressions of their teeth. The custom fit allows the retainer to sit snugly and comfortably in the roof of your mouth, so that the wires and acrylic framing can keep the teeth in perfect position. Patients are able to personalize their retainer as the acrylic can come in a large number of colors and/or patterns.
Although also a removable retainer, the Essix retainer is different from the Hawley retainer in that it is almost invisible to the eye. It is made out of a clear material with no heavy metal wires. These retainers fit over the entire arch of teeth, are very durable, inexpensive and easy to wear.
If an orthodontist determines your teeth need permanent support, you may receive fixed retainers. A fixed retainer is most commonly applied to the front teeth of the bottom jaw. The bonded lingual retainers are cemented directly to the inside surface of the lower canines. This is one of the best ways to prevent your lower teeth from shifting back in to its original position. It is important to keep all retainers clean. When brushing fixed retainers, patients should carefully clean the inside of their lower teeth as well as the wire.
The final result of a patient’s orthodontic treatment is based on this last stage, so it is encouraged that patient’s continue to put in the hard work of looking after their teeth and retainer, as they did with their braces.