Creating your new healthy smile is our goal but it is very important to keep that beautiful result. This typically involves wearing an orthodontic appliance called a retainer. Several different kinds of retainers are available, all of which are custom-made just for you. We will recommend the type that will work best in your situation, and we’ll tell you exactly when and how long you need to wear them.
After they have being moved, it takes several months for the gums and bone to adjust to the new tooth positions. So if you want to keep that new smile it’s essential to wear your retainers as directed.
Three Types of Retainers
There are three basic types of retainers available today; each works best in particular situations.
- The most common is the “Hawley” retainer — which is made of plastic and a wire on the outside that holds your teeth in position. The Hawley retainer is simple, durable and easily removed. It’s even possible to personalize it by choosing different colors and designs for the plastic part. It can also be adjusted to correct minor tooth movements.
- Another popular style of retainer is the clear “Essix” retainer, which looks similar to the Invisalign® tray system. These retainers are custom-made of thin, transparent plastic which is designed to fit precisely over your teeth. Their main advantage is that they’re invisible, with no wire to show. These retainers are also easy to remove, but they may be somewhat less durable than the Hawley retainer. They aren’t recommended for patients with certain conditions, like heavy tooth grinding.
- Finally, fixed retainers are usually recommended, especially on the lower front teeth. They are hidden behind the teeth and are not visible. Depending on the bite of the front teeth, we may not be able to place a fixed retainer on the upper teeth. We recommend fixed retainers be kept for a minimum or 5 years. This type of retainer is recommended when there’s a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position.
A Period of Adjustment
After a short time, most people adjust quite well to wearing a retainer. Some may find that they produce more saliva than usual for a day or so after first wearing any type of retainer . You may also find it a little harder to talk normally at first, but that will soon disappear. Removable retainers should always be taken out when you eat or brush your teeth.
At first, you may be told to wear your removable retainer all day, every day. This period of 24/7 retainer use generally lasts for several months. Later, we may say that it’s OK to wear it only at night. Finally, you’ll probably need to put it on just a few nights a week.