What type of retainers do I have to wear?

Congratulations on being done with orthodontic treatment! Now you have a great looking smile! Now it is time for you to be responsible for maintaining these nice straight teeth of yours.

There are several types of retainers: The traditional Hawley retainers, the clear retainers (a.k.a. Essix retainers), and the bonded retainers (a.k.a. bonded lingual retainers).

The traditional Hawley retainers are made of acrylic in the palate area and a metal wire wraps around the front teeth. They sometimes are prescribed to help your teeth settle in to their final positions better. It may take a couple weeks to get used to talking with them.

Clear Essix retainers are esthetic and virtually invisible. Many people love them due to the lack of metal. They are also relatively comfortable to wear. Research has shown that the Clear Essix retainers tend to keep teeth straight slightly better than the Hawley retainers do, and is usually the retainer of choice. It may take a couple weeks to get used to talking with them.

The Hawley and Clear Essix retainers are removable and must be kept clean daily. They must be removed for meals, snacks and if you want to drink anything containing sugar or soda. Take care to remove these retainers from both sides, wiggling them a little at a time. If the retainers are frequently removed from one side only, they will break and a new one will have to be made soon or your teeth will shift.

Bonded retainers, which are “glued” to the back of each lower front tooth, are esthetic too. Many parents and patients request this type of retainers with the thought that they don’t have to remember to wear retainers because they are considered “permanent” by the patient. The truth is – nothing is permanent. The bonded lingual retainer sometimes get loose without the patient knowing it and the teeth shift, thus one cannot solely rely on these “permanent” bonded retainers for life. Dr. Leo Toureno will usually have Essix Clear retainers over the bonded retainers for use every night for assurance.

Ultimately, the patient is responsible for keeping their teeth straight after braces.