Orthodontic treatment works to align your teeth into their correct positions with the use of appliances such as braces. Once the treatment is over and the braces have been removed, there is a chance that your teeth may tend to shift back into their old positions. The retention phase of orthodontic therapy helps in avoiding that.
A retainer is an appliance made using transparent plastic wires and is worn on the teeth after the removal of braces. The amount of time for which the retention phase of orthodontic treatment may last depends upon how much your teeth have shifted from their old positions and your age, type of orthodontic treatment, etc.
Types of Retainers
Hawley retainer – This type of retainer comprises of a metal wire on an acrylic arch. The arch fits comfortably on the teeth, and the metal wire can be adjusted by a dentist to make sure that the teeth stay in the desired position.
Essix – This is a vacuum formed retainer which is made using a mold of the newly-aligned teeth. Clear trays of PVC are created to fit over the entire dental arch. Essix retainers are much more cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing than Hawley retainers; however they are prone to scratching and breakage.
Fixed Retainers- These consist of a single wire and are similar to lingual braces. They are placed on the tongue side of a few teeth. They are mostly used in cases where there has been a substantial or rapid movement of the teeth due to orthodontic treatment.
Below are a few tips on how you can properly care for and maintain your retainer:
- Make sure you don’t lose the appliance. Removable retainers get lost quite easily. Always place your removable retainers in their case while brushing eating and drinking.
- Do not eat and drink with the retainer on. Excess liquid trapped under the trays can enhance the teeth’s exposure to acid, leading to decay.
- Keep your retainer clean. Unclean removable retainers can become breeding grounds for bacteria and calculus.
- Always wear your retainer as directed to prevent your teeth from shifting back into their old positions.
For more information about retainers, please feel free to call our office at (414) 214-0866.