There’s nothing quite like waiting for your braces to come off. Especially after months—years, even—of waiting. No more uncomfortable, tight feeling in your teeth. No more things getting stuck in your braces. Most of all, no more misaligned teeth! But in order to keep your straightened teeth in place, you'll need to wear a retainer.
What are the types of retainers I can use?
Hawley, which is named after its inventor Dr. Charles A. Hawley, is the most common retainer type under removable retainers. This retainer is made of a metal wire which encloses the six anterior teeth. It is then merged by two omega loops, which are used to adjust it for minor movements of the anterior teeth when necessary.
Although not aesthetically pleasing, Hawley retainers are robust, easy-to-make, and can add a prosthetic tooth or teeth. Still, these retainers are not as effective as other retainers when it comes to retaining the lower incisors.
Another type of retainer is vacuum-formed and fitted to the entire curve of the teeth. This type of orthodontic appliance resembles a clear aligner. They are also recommended to be worn even at night.
A vacuum-formed type is cheaper, less apparent when worn, and easy-to-wear. However, patients who grind their teeth are not advised to use this type as they are likely to break and deteriorate.
On the other hand, fixed ones can be multi-strand, fixed canine, and canine or reinforced fibers. Multi-strand retainers are attached to each tooth of the labial segment and utilize acid-etch composite or composite resin bonding.
Among the fixed types, a multi-strand is the most recommended. Fixed canine can result in a relapse of the incisors. Meanwhile, a reinforced fiber is more susceptible to fracture.
How long should I wear my retainer?
The time you spend wearing your retainer is dependent on your case and your dentist's recommendation. You may be required to keep your retainer 24 hours each day except when cleaning for three to six months. It may also be during nighttime only for about a year.
Talk to your orthodontist and discuss with him or her your treatment plan.
How can I take care of my retainer?
Orthodontic retainers must be sterile and clean. Bacteria, plaque, and tartar attach themselves to the retainer. Therefore, it is essential to clean the retainer after removing it from the mouth immediately. When debris hardens, the cleaning process will be more challenging.
Brushing the retainer is good. However, it is a good idea to soak it in a retainer cleaner daily to remove the bacteria that might have been missed with brushing.
Also, be wary of the cleaning agent you use. Ensure that the product is not abrasive as it can damage the retainer. If calcium deposits remain stuck to the retainer after brushing or soaking it, you should consult your orthodontist to help you address the issue.