Protect your smile investment with a retainer. Call Kenmore Dental today at 425-485-0588!
Orthodontic treatment consists of three steps:
- Diagnosis and creation of the treatment plan
- Treatment using orthodontic appliances and extraction, if necessary
- Retention with permanent or removable retainers
Retention is the essential part of orthodontic care because if you do not retain your adjusted smile, you lose all the weeks and months invested in treatment. Retainers are the orthodontic appliance used to protect your new smile and keep it in place.
Permanent retainers, also known as lingual retainers or lingual wire, consist of thin wire bonded to the backs of the teeth. They are not permanent but are called such because only your orthodontist can remove them.
The wire and bonded points are hidden with permanent retainers while keeping your smile in place. Unfortunately, many people wear a permanent retainer for years.
Permanent retainers offer several advantages:
- They are invisible when you smile
- They do not affect your speech
- They are easy to clean and difficult to damage
Permanent retainers hold your teeth in place with minimum maintenance. In some cases, a permanent-bonded retainer may be used with a removable retainer to add protection.
Permanent retainers present some drawbacks, however. For example, flossing can be difficult for patients who have a bonded retainer, and sticky or chewy foods may adhere to teeth or around wires. In addition, plaque can build up around the appliance and bonding areas. Therefore, extra care is required when brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
Some patients experience irritation from the metal wires. Also, if you have a metal allergy, a permanent retainer is not a good choice for you.
Other Types of Retainers
Removable retainers are made of clear plastic or a combination of thin wire and plastic. Unlike permanent retainers, removable retainers are taken out while eating or cleaning. As a result, removable retainers are often worn at night, doubling as mouthguards against teeth grinding.
A Hawley retainer is a type of retainer made from rigid plastic and wire. These are the most iconic form of retainer, with the wire crossing the front of the teeth. Hawley retainers are durable and cost-effective, though they don’t last as long as permanent retainers.
The plastic retainer is made from durable clear plastic such as polypropylene or polyvinylchloride (PVC) and fits directly over your teeth. The Essix retainer is the most common plastic retainer; many patients prefer Essix retainers because they are barely visible and easily removed.
Essix retainers are molded to fit perfectly over your teeth and are one of the less expensive options for retaining your corrected smile.
A Vivera retainer, also known as an Invisalign retainer, is a clear plastic retainer that you can use whether your teeth are straightened with fixed braces or Invisalign aligners. Like Essix retainers, Vivera retainers are custom-made and fitted to your teeth to keep your new smile in place.
Caring for Orthodontic Retainers
Orthodontic retainers are often worn for years, so it is essential to replace them periodically. Proper cleaning and care are also necessary. Keep them away from the excessive heat that could damage the plastic, including heaters, dishwashers, and car dashboards.
Gentle brushing with a toothbrush and mild soap removes any plaque accumulation, and denture cleaning solutions also work well to remove buildup.
Permanent retainers stay in place forever or until removed by your orthodontist. Maintain good oral health habits, including brushing, flossing, and rinsing, and have the wire checked every six months by your family dentist.