What are the types of retainers?
To retain means to keep in place, therefore an orthodontic retainer is used to keep your teeth in their new position after your braces come off. Most orthodontists use one of the following three types of retainers:
A clear plastic retainer (also called a trutain) is sometimes placed on the upper teeth one or two days after the braces are removed. It resembles the Invisalign® appliance. It is normally worn only at night and lasts an average of 24 months. After it wears out, the orthodontist may replace it with a traditional wire retainer. Some people have commented that this type of retainer can be uncomfortable.
A bonded retainer is normally placed behind the lower teeth after the braces are removed. It is a wire ‘permanently’ bonded to the teeth with composite material. Sometimes this type of retainer is used for the upper teeth, however usually this is not possible because it would interfere with your bite. A bonded retainer will remain in place for several years.
A wire retainer (also called a Hawley Retainer) is the type of retainer that has the added benefit of being adjustable so that minor tooth movement is possible.
Why do I have to wear a retainer after my braces come off?
It takes many months for your periodontal ligaments and bone to ‘remember’ the new position of your teeth and keep them in place. The retainer helps keep them in their proper new position. It’s important to wear the retainer exactly as your orthodontist recommends otherwise your teeth may shift.
How do I keep my retainer clean?
You should brush your retainer each night as directed by your orthodontist. You can also use a retainer cleaner, or even denture cleaner (on a Hawley retainer), to keep it extra clean.