Types of Retainers
Retainers are critical to preserving your beautiful smile after the completion of your orthodontic treatment. In fact, renowned orthodontic faculty of residency programs have said that orthodontic retention is half of the difficulty in orthodontics as a whole. That being said, there are many philosophies and modalities, both new and old, to orthodontic retention. Most people want to know what options exist, as there are several different types of retainers.
Some people know this type of retainer as the “classic” or “old” style of retainers, which is true in a sense. Hawley retainers have a thick metal bar covering the front six teeth, an acrylic plate that covers part of the palate (upper) or inner (lower) gums, and some type of clasp in the back. The design of Hawleys are highly customizable per the doctor’s prescription, based on what retention difficulties may be anticipated. With every design variation the doctor is able to adjust the front metal bar, which can close minor spacing or improve minor rotations. The acrylic can also be adjusted for teeth that have shifted. These retainers are commonly used because of their versatility and durability.
Essix (Clear) Retainers
Essix retainers are made out of a clear plastic that is formed using a model of your teeth. These retainers are unnoticeable to most people, which for some patients makes them more likely to wear them! The thin plastic also covers the chewing surface of the teeth, which can protect against mild night time grinding. A frequent, strong “grinder” will wear through these retainers rather quickly.
Sometimes referred to as “permanent” retainers, bonded retainers consist of a thin metal bar that is bonded to the backs of the front teeth. There are several designs and different types of wire that may be used. Some are bonded to each tooth individually, others are just bonded on the canine teeth and have a bar that rests on the insides of the teeth in between. Bonded retainers are indicated for people with good oral hygiene because you still have to feed your floss under the wire like you do when you have braces! They’re also very helpful for people who had severe spacing or an upper middle gap before braces and for people who had severe spacing and didn’t get teeth removed as a part of their orthodontic treatment.
Drs. Abdoney and Cronauer are happy to discuss what type of retainers will be best for you!