Types of Retainers

The retention process that follows your orthodontic treatment is extremely important if you wish to preserve the straight and flawless appearance of your new smile.

Once your teeth are free of brackets and wires (or clear aligners), they have a natural tendency to revert back to their former positions. The soft tissues and bones underlying your teeth need further reinforcement to maintain proper alignment. This is where your retainer appliance comes into play and there are different types of retainers for each type of orthodontic treatment.

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What are your retainer options?

Clear Retainers

A clear retainer is custom-fitted to the curve of your teeth and nearly-invisible in appearance. This retainer is made of a smooth, flexible plastic that protects the teeth against damage caused by grinding. Your clear retainer requires extra care, so don’t eat or drink with anything besides water with your retainer in, or you risk damaging the retainer or causing discoloration. Don’t brush your clear retainer with toothpaste, but do use your toothbrush and cold water. Never use very hot water, or you risk shrinking or deforming the retainer. Soak your retainer in retainer cleaner or denture cleaner for 10 to 15 minutes as necessary. You can also purchase an ultrasonic retainer cleaner which works in conjunction with retainer cleaners to keep your retainers sparkling new.

Although clear retainers are easily damaged and require greater maintenance than other retainers, clear retainers are less expensive to replace and provide a transparent treatment option to retain your smile. Clear retainers are also the most accurate retainers at holding your teeth in perfect alignment, and clear retainers are more easily adjusted by the orthodontist if the teeth begin to shift (which generally only happens if you fail to wear it as prescribed). Clear retainers also function as both night guards and whitening trays, which contributes to their increasing popularity over traditional Hawley retainers.

Traditional Hawley Retainers

The traditional Hawley retainer has an acrylic center that rests on the roof of your mouth. Metal wires create the infrastructure of the retainer and surround the top teeth with the custom-fitted formation. The wires permeate between the back molars to hold the retainer in its place. This retainer comes in numerous forms. Some forms of this retainer have a solid acrylic center, while others have a hollowed acrylic center.

The Hawley retainer is convenient as it allows your orthodontist to adjust wires easily, as necessary, if the retainer happens to bend out of place. One of the disadvantages of Hawley retainers is they can allow teeth to rotate more easily than clear retainers. They are also more expensive to replace in the event of damage or loss.

Fixed (Permanent) Retainers

Fixed retainers are cemented in place and are not removable for an extended period of time. A permanent retainer appears as a thin metal wire, cemented to the curve of your bottom teeth with two brackets on either end. It can be difficult to floss between the teeth with a wire in the way, so we will recommend different flosses designed to get between each tooth that is impacted by the retainer. Maintaining good oral hygiene with a permanent retainer is important to prevent plaque buildup. Be sure to brush rigorously behind your bottom teeth to loosen any lodged debris and food particles.

After a few days with your new fixed retainer, you won’t even realize it’s there! Dr. Cardall is one of only a few orthodontists in Bakersfield to offer permanent retainers. He is a big fan of them because he wants to do everything possible to keep his patients’ teeth straight!

How long should you wear your retainer?

If your retainer is removable, Dr. Cardall will advise you to wear it every night for the first year. Eventually, you will be able to wear your retainer 2 to 3 nights a week. Your teeth will gradually settle and get used to their new alignment at this point, but we advise you to keep wearing your retainer indefinitely a few nights a week.

If you opt for a fixed retainer, you we still receive a removable retainer that fits over the top of it. We advise you to wear your removable retainer indefinitely at night, even with a fixed retainer. However, the fixed retainer will allow you to wear your removable retainer less frequently without the same negative repercussions that accompany those without fixed retainers.

What happens if you lose or break your retainer?

Lost or broke your retainer? It happens! When it does, be sure to contact us immediately. Without your retainer, your teeth will shift out of alignment, so don’t wait too long to get a replacement or repair. If your retainer is broken, bring any leftover pieces that may be salvaged for reparation.

If your retainer is broken or lost, you may incur replacement or reparation fees.

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At Cardall Orthodontics, we are proud to offer one of the lowest retainer replacement fees in the Bakersfield area.

And to better serve our patients with the most affordable treatments, we also include permanent retainers in your treatment plan!

Despite the form of retainer you choose after your braces treatment, the most important takeaway is that you wear your retainer as Dr. Cardall prescribes. If you don’t wear your retainer persistently for a year after your braces are removed, your teeth will undoubtedly shift back into misalignment and you will lose much of the progress you made. (Imagine telling your parents that your teeth reverted back to their old ways after a year of orthodontist visits and payments!)

The retention process is vastly important for successful straightening and realignment of your smile.

If you have any more questions regarding retainer appliances, or you wish to schedule your free exam, you can contact us here!

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