What Are Teeth Retainers and Why Are They Important?

Teeth Retainers - retainers for teeth after braces, types of retainers by Michael Bryant Orthodontics in Windsor Mill, MD

Teeth retainers are crucial tools used to maintain a patient’s new smile after their braces come off. If a child, teen, or adult whose teeth have been properly aligned with braces fails to wear their retainer, their teeth can begin to shift back into their original positions. Getting used to wearing and keeping track of a retainer can be a challenge, especially for some younger patients. But when orthodontists and parents work together to stress proper retainer use and care, even children can find success at this last phase of orthodontic treatment.

What Are the Advantages of Wearing Retainers for Teeth After Braces?

There are a surprising number of benefits to wearing a retainer after braces, such as:

  • The most obvious advantage to wearing retainers for teeth is that they can keep your teeth straight after braces.
  • Straighter teeth are less prone to plaque buildup and tooth decay. If you wear your retainer, it will help you maintain better overall oral hygiene.
  • Straighter teeth maintained by proper retainer use can make chewing more effective.
  • Retainers can help with certain speech problems because they encourage proper tongue placement.
  • For some wearers, retainers can help to correct breathing problems.

Now that you’ve been shown why it’s important to wear teeth retainers after braces, you can start to explore the different types of retainers available.

What Are the Different Types of Retainers?

There are several different types of retainers. The orthodontist can speak with you individually about which of the different retainers for teeth after braces would work best in your situation. The types include:

  • Permanent Retainers, which are fixed or bonded to the teeth. These have the advantage of never being able to be lost. They are also among the least noticeable type of retainers based on their placement behind the teeth. They are, however, among the most difficult type to keep clean.
  • Essix Retainers, which are made of plastic from a mold taken of the teeth. They fit securely over the teeth, like Invisalign clear aligners. They have the advantage of being unnoticeable. They’re also removable, which means that they shouldn’t interfere with effective oral hygiene habits. They sometimes do cause speech impairments. These retainers should be inspected regularly for cracks. It is possible for them to become misplaced, so care should be taken to keep track of them when wearing them.
  • Hawley Retainers, which are removable retainers that fit inside the mouth. They include a thick, plastic section which snugs to the roof of the mouth and secures behind the teeth with wire clasps on the sides and along the front side of the teeth. The bow wire, which sits in front of the teeth, is sometimes noticeable. Hawley retainers are adjustable, so the orthodontist can use them to tweak your orthodontic care if they notice your teeth are moving out of alignment again. These rugged retainers aren’t as susceptible to damage as the Essix retainers. They’re also removable, so they shouldn’t interfere with regular oral hygiene habits. Like the Essix retainer, they can be lost, so care should be taken to keep track of them when they’re taken out of the mouth.

If you want to know more about retainers for teeth after braces, the orthodontist would be happy to speak to you about the various options. Feel free to contact us for more information.