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Orthodontic Retainers for After Braces

You have a beautiful, healthy, confident smile. Lets keep it that way!

Orthodontic retainers after braces will maintain the beautiful, healthy, confident smile that you achieved while wearing braces.  Although your braces have been removed it's still important to keep up with your orthodontic treatment until your teeth stabilize. When you are finally free of braces, you’ll be a little tempted to stop maintaining your smile, don’t do it. Your smile is going to be unstable the first couple of months that your braces are off. Why? Your braces were put in to move your teeth and jaw into the correct position, that means bone and tissue are being moved around a little. This takes time, so you’ll need a retainer to keep your teeth where they should be until the bone and tissue set permanently.

The retainer process is so important to the orthodontic process that you could end up back in dental braces if you don’t stick to the schedule that your orthodontist provides. Orthodontic relapse is preventable with proper care and consistent use of your retainer. So follow the instructions from your orthodontist carefully because you deserve to keep your new smile.

Types of Retainers

Although you don’t have a choice about wearing a retainer (if you want to keep your smile), you may be able to choose what your retainer will look like. Retainers come in a variety of options, some of them stay in your mouth (fixed or bonded retainers) and others are removable.

There are three types of retainers that are commonly used after braces:

Hawley Retainer

Hawley Retainers are composed of both plastic and metal wire. The plastic portion is comprised of an arch that looks a little like a tongue. Hawley retainers come in as many colors as you can think of, including clear and flesh tones that match your mouth.The plastic part of the retainer is inside the patient's mouth. The metal wire on a Hawley Retainer is visible because it's on the outside surrounding the patient's teeth.

Two of the best things about the Hawley retainer are that it's easy to remove and that it’s not easy to break. However, one of the biggest cons to a Hawley retainer is that not every patient will wear it as often as they should. Orthodontic relapse can happen if a patient doesn’t actively participate in their treatment by wearing their orthodontic retainer as often as they should.

Clear (Essix) Retainer

A clear retainer offers many benefits. One of the best features is that you can barely see it and it's certainly less noticeable than the Hawley Retainer. It looks very similar to Invisalign and most people won’t even know that you are wearing an Essix retainer unless they are looking very closely. The plastic retainers are also removable, so you can take them off when you want to. However, like the Hawley retainer, one of the biggest cons to an Essix retainer is that not every patient will wear it as often as they should.

Fixed or Bonded Retainers

Fixed (or Bonded) retainers are just that, retainers you can’t remove. The permanent nature of a bonded retainer makes a relapse much less likely, especially for patients who are likely to forget to wear their retainer or may choose not to wear a removable retainer as often as they should. Another great feature is that permanent retainers are glued to the back of your teeth, so there are no cosmetic considerations when choosing a bonded retainer. Other people simply cannot see a bonded retainer.

Although a bonded retainer prevents orthodontic relapses, is not visible to others, and creates less worry about wearing your retainer enough, they still have their cons. Permanent retainers can be a real pain to floss around, it’s almost impossible to floss correctly without threader floss.

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