What Is A Retainer?
Orthodontic retainers are custom-made devices, made usually of clear plastic and/or wires, that hold teeth in position alignment. They are used after braces or aligners to keep teeth in position while resisting the inevitable changes that happen over time. Patients are instructed to wear their retainer(s) all day and night for the first two weeks following the removal of their appliances. After two weeks, patients should wear their retainers at night for life.
As you age, your teeth tend to shift. Your retainer will help control this naturally occurring, age-related shifting. Wearing your retainer exactly as instructed is the best insurance that your orthodontic treatment results last a lifetime.
Are Retainers Comfortable To Wear?
When you wear your retainers, certain teeth may feel pressure and might even feel sore once in a while. If you experience this temporary discomfort, don't worry — it's completely normal. The more your wear it, the more comfortable it will be.
How Long Do I Have To Wear My Retainers?
After the first two weeks of full time wear, at Night for Life!
Types of Retainers
The most common type of retainer, Hawley retainers have a design that consists of wires and clasps embedded in a relatively thick plastic body that covers over the roof of the your mouth or lies along the tongue side of your lower teeth. The clasps grasp selected teeth so the retainer is anchored securely. The retaining "bow" wire arches across the front side of the your teeth and holds and maintains their alignment.
These retainers are clear plastic vacuum-formed appliances that are made by taking a cast of your teeth. Although they are slightly less noticeable, they don't have the life span of Hawley retainers.
Fixed retainers are also referred to as "bonded" or "permanent" retainers. And, as each of these names suggest, these types of appliances are attached (bonded) directly to the backsides of the front teeth (3 teeth left of center and 3 right of center). Fixed retainers do not touch or hold the back teeth because it's not possible to have a wire go round the entire mouth. Thus, the back teeth may move over time. Also, since they are attached to your teeth, they cannot be removed, except by Dr. Paschal or another dental professional.