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What are the Different Types of Retainers?

By May 20, 2020July 22nd, 2022Orthodontics

Getting close to the end of orthodontic treatment? Congratulations! You’re just about ready to meet the new you. After months or years of adapting to your hardware, you deserve to show off that beautiful smile. However, just because you’re officially finished with braces or clear aligners doesn’t mean you’re done with treatment altogether. To make sure your teeth stay where we want them, you need to continue to wear an orthodontic retainer.

Orthodontic retainers help to maintain your teeth’s new position so your smile stays as straight as possible for many years to come. There are many different types of retainers to choose from, each with their own pros and cons. To take the guesswork out of choosing an orthodontic retainer, The Brace Place created this guide. Here’s everything you need to know about retainers and how to pick the best one for you.

Why Do I Need a Retainer After Braces of Invisalign?

First things first, you might be wondering why you need to wear a retainer after orthodontic treatment in the first place. What’s the worst that can happen if you decide not to use one, right? Well, your teeth have worked really hard over the course of your treatment to shift into the perfect position. Now that you’re not wearing your braces or clear aligners anymore, they need a little extra support to remember where they’re supposed to be.

Think of your time with braces or aligners as the “treatment” phase. Now, you’ve entered the “maintenance” phase. A retainer keeps your teeth in place, maintaining your beautiful new smile and protecting your investment. We know it can be tempting to avoid it, but wearing a retainer is the best way to prevent your teeth from relapsing, which happens when they move back to their original place.

So how long do you need to wear a retainer? The rumors are true: you will have to wear it forever if you want to keep your smile as straight as possible. For the first few months, you’ll need to keep it in full time. Then, once your teeth have had some time to get used to their new position, you can slowly shift to only wearing it at night. Trust us: it’s worth it. You waited a long time for your new smile, so it’s important to take the right steps to keep it this way.

Types of Retainers

Retainers come in all shapes, sizes and colors. The type of retainer you choose depends on your personal preferences and orthodontic needs. Some retainers are fixed, some are removable, some are made from plastic and others are made from metal. Here, we’ll break down the main two types of orthodontic retainers we offer at The Brace Place to help you make the best decision for your post-braces care.

Essix Retainers

 If you want a retainer that’s virtually invisible but can still be removed, a plastic retainer, such as an Essix retainer, is the perfect choice. Essix retainers are made from a thin, clear plastic that’s nearly impossible to see, so you can wear your retainer while still enjoying your new smile.

Essix retainers function in a similar way as clear plastic aligners to keep your teeth in place. However, the plastic is slightly thinner than aligners so they may not be as durable if you don’t take care of them properly. Unfortunately, since clear retainers can’t be adjusted, they cannot be fixed if broken. So if you’re opting for a plastic retainer over a metal one, make sure to take extra care with your device. An added bonus with Essix retainers is that they’re removable, so you can easily eat, brush and floss as usual.

Permanent Retainers

Removable retainers are a fantastic option for those who want to be able to brush and floss their teeth without disruption. That said, it’s easy to forget to wear a removable retainer or to wear it less than you’re supposed to. A permanent retainer eliminates that problem because it’s fixed in place — in other words, you have no choice but to wear it all the time! A simple wire is bonded to the back of your teeth (typically just the lower teeth) to keep them in their new position. While it may be a little trickier to brush and floss correctly, a permanent retainer is the simplest, most indetectable option for orthodontic retainers.

With so many different kinds of orthodontic retainers on the market, we know it can be difficult to decide which option is best. Your choice comes down to how visible (or invisible) and durable you want your retainer to be. If you’re still unsure, The Brace Place is here to answer any of your questions about retainers. Call us today book a virtual consultation.