Everything You Need to Know About Retainers
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Everything You Need to Know About Retainers

Congrats! You spent a significant amount of time and money completing your journey to straight teeth and now the results finally reflect that! But how do you ensure all the hard work you put into your new smile doesn’t slowly revert back to your previous, crooked smile? By moving onto the final stage of your smile journey: wearing a retainer! Wearing a retainer will help protect your newly straight teeth from moving. Today we’re going to cover the different types of retainers and how they work to straighten, or maintain straight teeth. 

Clear Retainers

One of the most popular choices for retainers are clear ones. Clear retainers are an exact match to your teeth and are virtually invisible. Not only are these thin and more comfortable, they’re easy to reproduce, so if you lose yours, don’t worry! It’s easy to make copies of this kind of retainer. These types of retainers are flexible so there is a chance yours could need replacing yearly, or sooner if there is major dental work done that changes the shape or alignment of your teeth.

Hawley Retainers

Consider Hawley the OG of retainers. You’ve probably seen friends and family members wear them throughout your life. They’re made of wire and a hard, plastic-like material. You can choose between a standard pink color that matches the inside of your mouth, or you can opt for a fun design or color to spice things up! Check out this image we found of all the fun designs available to Hawley retainer wearers.

Permanent Retainers

Just as the name states, permanent retainers can only be removed by your dentist or orthodontist. “Each is a custom-fitted wire that is bonded to the tongue-side of your teeth,” according to the American Association of Orthodontists. It’s important to remember to brush and floss these retainers twice a day as they cannot be removed before eating or drinking. If you struggle to keep up with following guidelines for removable retainers, your dentist or orthodontist may suggest permanent retainers. 

Here are a few other things to pros consider with a permanent retainer:

  • No one will know you have a permanent retainer because the device is placed behind your teeth.
  • You don’t have to worry about losing it!
  • Your speech will likely not be affected by the retainer.

And a few cons to permanent retainers:

  • Your normal brushing routine will require extra time and care as the retainers cannot be removed.
  • You may be at an increased risk of tartar and plaque build up with a permanent retainer, so it’s important to keep all your dental check up appointments so your dentist can monitor your oral health.
  • There’s a chance your tongue could be irritated if a wire were to come loose. (In this case, you’d want to contact your dentist as soon as possible.)

Removable Retainers

If you’d like a little more control over your retainers, removable ones (such a s the clear or Hawley kind) may be the best option for you. With removable retainers, you’ll be able to take them out when you’re eating or drinking, or when you need to clean them (which is a bit easier to do than with permanent retainers). As soon as your braces are removed, your orthodontist will take an impression of your teeth to have a custom-made removable retainer(s) made for you. 

A final piece of advice when it comes to wearing your retainers…

  1. You’ll receive a “prescription” for your retainers. This will include instructions on when to wear and for how long. 
  2. If the retainer is not in your mouth, it should be kept in it’s case.
  3. Keep your retainers clean, whether permanent or removable.
  4. If you lose your retainer, don’t hesitate! Call your dentist ASAP!
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