It took four years, but now you’re finally free of your braces! Long gone are the days of not being able to chew gum, eat popcorn, candy apples, and cutting the inside of your lips and cheeks. Well…maybe just one of those is true. While you’ll be able to run your tongue over the smooth surface if your newly straight teeth, you’re not quite out of the woods just yet. After braces comes your retainer, a device that is used to keep your teeth straight after the braces are no longer pulling them into place. But don’t worry, they’re not nearly as bad as you think they are.
Dental retainers come in a few different types, meaning that just like with your braces, you can choose which option works best for your lifestyle. Note that the retainer itself is not optional, not unless you want your teeth to wander back to their pre-braces position and waste the thousands of dollars that you spent on orthodontic work. But as mentioned before, retainers are a walk in the park compared to braces so lets explore which one is the best one for you.
Types of Retainers
First, you’ll need to choose between one of two options: fixed or removable. Like their names explain, removable retainers are able to be taken off when you’re doing activities such as eating and brushing your teeth. Fixed retainers are not removable and stay in a fixed position, cemented to the back of your teeth. Removable retainers are good for those individuals who have good disipline and will commit to wearing them during the assigned times and won’t forget to put them back in after a meal or a teeth brushing. Eventually, removable retainers will only need to be worn at night rather than the day which makes it an appealing choice for most. However, for those who are forgetful or just prefer to not have the hassle or worry about losing or damaging their retainer, a fixed retainer would be the best option. Fixed retainers are also referred to as bonded retainers.
For those who choose removable retainers, there are two different kinds to choose from.
The first is called a Hawley retainer which was the only option for a little while. Hawley retainers are made of a plastic base that conforms to the shape of your hard palate and a wire that wraps around the front of your teeth. Hawley retainers are a great option for kids because they come in a variety of colours, and can even have sparkles added to the colour for a more fun look.
The second type of removable retainer is called an Essix retainer. These retainers are made of a clear plastic which is perfect for teens and adults who may not want a visible wire shown around their teeth. If you wore Invisalign® before as your choice of teeth straightener, these almost mimic the fit and function. However, Essix retainers do not have the durability and lifespan of a Hawley retainers, making them not the best candidate if you need to wear it for awhile.
Orthodontic Retainer Care Tips
We covered cleaning your dental retainer in an earlier blog post which you can read about here. However, here are a couple general care tips to help preserve your retainer for months to come.
– Keep your retainer in its case when it is not in use to avoid losing it or dropping and potentially breaking it.
– If you have an Essix retainer, follow the same rules as you did with your braces and avoid eating anything too hard or stick to prevent damaging the retainer.
If you have any further questions about retainers, your dentist can provide you with answers and resources. To book a consultation with Dr. Saadat, give our office a call at +1 805-499-3691.