Retainers help to keep your teeth in position once you have completed your orthodontic treatment. Having worn braces for many months or even years you do not want all that time and money going to waste!
Between the root and the jaw bone of all teeth is a gum tissue called the periodontal ligament. During treatment with braces this ligament widens making the teeth slightly mobile and allowing them to move. Once you have finished your orthodontic treatment your teeth will want to move back to how they were and the retainers helps maintain your straightened teeth’s smile. Wearing retainers holds the teeth allowing the periodontal ligament to go back to its normal size.
Types of Retainers
Generally there are two types of retainers, fixed and removable, As the names suggest you can take out a removable retainer whilst the fixed retainer is bonded
or glued into place. Sometimes your orthodontist or dentist will advise using both types of retainers, one to hold the front teeth and the other the back teeth.
Fixed retainers can be made form thin cast metal or wires that are bonded to the back of your teeth so that no-one can see them. As these cannot be taken out they have the advantage
of you not being able to forgetting to wear them. Not wearing your retainer can allow the teeth to move out of position.
A ‘Bonded’ Fixed Retainer
of fixed retainers are:
- They can make it difficult to clean your teeth
- They generally are only good for front teeth retention
- They can de-bond allowing your teeth to move ot of position
Removable retainers have a number of advantages
- They can be taken out to clean
- They allow you to clean your teeth more easily
- You don’t have to wear them all the time
There are some disadvantages
though with removable retainers. If you forget to wear them your teeth could move out of position (relapse).
A common type of removable retainers are made from a hard, clear plastic. They are often called Essix retainers. After wearing Invisalign
clear braces you can wear Vivera retainers
which are very similar. You can also get traditional retainers that have wires on them.
A Traditional Removable Retainer
Cleaning your retainers
is important as bacteria can build up
on them. Products such as retainer brite
can help to keep them clean and sparkling.