Your braces have been removed and your teeth are perfectly straight! It’s time to just enjoy your new smile since treatment is complete, right? Wrong! It’s time to wear your retainer so that your teeth stay in their new positions. A retainer is a custom-made appliance that continues to train your teeth to remain in place after your braces have been removed.
There are three types of retainers that orthodontists use to secure your new smile:
• Hawley: The most popular style, this is the traditional metal wire attached to an acrylic piece that fits in the roof of your mouth. You can take it in and out as desired.
• Essix: This type of retainer looks similar to Invisalign braces or to whitening trays. These are less noticeable than the traditional type, but are also flimsier and more breakable.
• Bonded: This permanent retainer consists of a wire being glued to the back of your teeth, and it cannot be removed by the patient. Your orthodontist will decide how long it remains in place; some remove the retainer dependent upon wisdom teeth removal, and others keep the retainer in place forever. One downside to this retainer is that tartar is difficult for dentists to remove with the retainer in place, so it’s very important to brush and floss properly and to see your dentist regularly.
Your orthodontist will help you decide which retainer is best for you. No matter what kind it is, the key is to wear it regularly for the recommended timeframe. Initially, that will be all day long for a number of months. Later, you’ll be able to only wear it at night. Remember, if you stop wearing your retainer, your teeth will shift. It may be the last step of your orthodontic treatment, but it’s also one of the most important.