Retainer Options Following Orthodontic Treatment

The time has FINALLY come! You’re ready to get your braces removed and show off your perfect new smile. Now is the time to consider your retainer options. Retainers are necessary as long as you want to keep your completed smile looking perfect. Or, as Dr. Larrabee likes to say,

“Retainers are for life!”

What are Retainers?

Retainers are a dental device that hold and maintain your teeth in a specific position following orthodontic treatment.  When your braces are removed, your teeth will want to move back to the position they were in previous to treatment. Retainers will keep your teeth in their current position to prevent relapse. They are individual and customized to each patient’s mouth and are essential in making sure your smile looks as good 20 years from now as it does the day you get your braces off.

How are Retainers Made?

Retainers are made by taking an impression of your teeth in their current position. A plaster replica or mold is then created to mimic the exact shape and alignment of your teeth. Depending on the type of retainer option Dr. Larrabee recommends, a retainer can be made in our office in as short as 30 minutes, or the mold is sent to a lab and retainers are returned about a week later.

What Types of Retainers are Available?

There are several different types of retainer options available, each with their own function. Dr. Larrabee will discuss the different options with you prior to getting your braces off and recommend the best retainer to meet your specific needs.

Clear Retainers

InvisalignClear retainers are the most common and most requested type of retainer Advanced Orthodontics offers. They are made in our office the same day you get your braces removed. A plastic material is vacuum formed to the plaster mold taken of your teeth. This style of retainer is less noticeable and more cost-effective should it need replacing. Replacement clear retainers can also be made in as short as 30 minutes in our office allowing for minimal, if any, relapse to occur while you are without a retainer.

Hawley Retainers

Hawley retainers used to be very common following orthodontic care. The plaster mold taken of your teeth is sent to a laboratory. At the lab, they make a retainer from an acrylic material for the palate (or roof) of your mouth and a wire on the front of your teeth. A Hawley retainer does the same job as a clear retainer but is slightly more noticeable. Should you need a replacement Hawley retainer, they are more costly, as there is an outside lab fee associated with them.

Fixed or Bonded Retainers

Fixed or bonded retainers are created by Dr. Larrabee bonding a thin wire to the back of your anterior (front) teeth. They are called a fixed retainer because they can not be removed by the patient. Only a dental professional can remove a fixed retainer. Fixed retainers are appealing to many patients and parents because they can not be lost and are aesthetically pleasing but they can be more work to care for and maintain by the patient.

A bonded retainer only retains, or holds, the front four or six teeth, so any width created during orthodontic treatment can be lost to relapse. Great care and responsibility is also needed to keep bonded retainers clean. They must be brushed and flossed following each meal or snack to ensure that food particles are not trapped between teeth. Some patients may not be candidates for a bonded retainer depending on how their bite fits together. If a patient’s bottom teeth are too close to their top teeth when they bite down, there is a risk of breakage to the bonded retainer or damage to the teeth.

Retainer Wear and Care

Retainers will be worn full time immediately following the completion of your orthodontic treatment. They should only be removed when eating, drinking or playing contact sports. Dr. Larrabee will continue to monitor your retainer wear periodically and advise when the initial settling period has passed. At this point, he will advise that retainers are worn only at night while sleeping.

Removeable retainers should be cleaned thoroughly with warm (not hot) water and soap. Bonded retainers should be brushed and flossed regularly. Make sure to keep removable retainers in a hard case, in a safe, dry place. Family pets LOVE to eat retainers.

Replacement Retainer Options

If your retainer does get lost or broken, call our office immediately to schedule an appointment to have a repair or new retainer made. The longer you go without a retainer, the more likely you are to experience a relapse. Unfortunately, in the process of making both clear and Hawley retainers, the mold of your teeth gets distorted, therefore, we are unable to keep previous retainer molds in our office.

Have additional questions regarding retainer options, or interested in scheduling a complimentary consultation for retainers, braces, or Invisalign? Call our office today and one of our energetic scheduling coordinators would be happy to find a time that works for your schedule to come see Dr. Larrabee!

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