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What Is A Retainer?

By definition retainers are a tool to maintain tooth position. They are sometimes capable of doing very minor tooth movement but most of the time are used to retain the position of teeth following orthodontic treatment.

There are several types of retainers. We use three primarily in our office.

Clear Retainers

These retainers are nearly invisible and used right after orthodontic treatment to hold tooth position, but can also be used as whitening trays. They are molded to fit your teeth perfectly and are trimmed to follow the contour of your gumline so they are incredibly comfortable to wear.

Hawley Retainers

These retainers are also used to maintain tooth position but consist of a hidden acrylic piece that is perfectly molded to the roof of your mouth with a visible wire that wraps around your teeth to hold them in position.  Since these are completely custom made for your mouth, they are very comfortable to wear and can be adjusted from time to time if needed.  They also come in a wide variety of colors, we can also add logos of your favorite sports teams or cartoon characters.

Fixed Retainers

These retainers are available to patients who have completed orthodontic treatment in our office. They are a small braided wire that is attached to the back the teeth with a bonding agent. They are considered a permanent or fixed retainer because they are not easily removed. Our office or another dental provider will have to remove the retainer once it is placed. Our office only offers fixed retainers for the central teeth on the lower arch. These retainers are an effective tool for maintaining tooth alignment but can cause an obstacle when brushing and flossing. It is important that you increase your attention to brushing and flossing around the fixed retainer to ensure good dental hygiene.

Retainer Maintenance

When wearing your retainer all day, be sure to rinse them out when they are taken off to eat and brush your teeth. If necessary, brush wire retainers carefully with toothpaste and warm water. Plastic retainers may be scratched if cleaned with a brush. When wearing your retainer only at night, make sure to at least rinse them before putting them in at night and after taking them out again in the mornings to prevent bacteria buildup. If brushing your retainers becomes tedious, use a soak for retainers or dentures to keep them clean.

At first, wearing retainers can be tiresome, but eventually you will only need to wear them at night, which is more convenient for most people. Over time, you will get used to the routine of wearing and cleaning them regularly. Making an effort to do this will pay off in the long run and your results will be well worth it. If your retainer breaks, becomes damaged, or gets lost, call our dental office immediately so that a new one can be made. The last thing you want is to put it off and let your teeth drift in the process of having a retainer replaced.

We are a full service dental office that offers the following services and much more: