When my patients think about retainers, they commonly think of the colourful plastic ones with metal wires that are worn after they their braces are removed. However, do you know that there 3 uniquely different types of retainers on the market right now, all with different pros and cons? Let’s go through each of them in turn so that you can find the best retainer for your personal oral health and wellbeing.
Hawley retainers are usually made with either plastic or acrylic with bendable metal wires and come in a variety of different colours. The wire usually goes in front of your teeth while the acrylic is made to fit snugly in your mouth. These are usually fitted tightly to your teeth and can be very durable, lasting up to 10 years for some patients!
These retainers have become much more popular in recent years, especially with the rising popularity of clear aligner brands such as Invisalign and Zenyum. Common brands for clear retainers include Essix, Zendura and Vivera. They are commonly made using plastic or polyurethane and are designed specifically for your mouth through the use of 3D imaging technology.
These retainers are made with a metal wire and is attached to your teeth with adhesive. They are sometimes known as bonded or fixed retainers. In general, these wires are made with a braided texture and aren’t easily removed. Orthodontists will sometimes elect to prescribe permanent retainers to individuals who have a tough time being compliant with the use of removable retainers. They are more commonly used on the lower teeth as it is easier to safely attach them to the lower shelf of teeth rather than the upper.
Permanent retainers should be cleaned daily and special techniques may be needed to remove trapped food and plaque from underneath the wire. If plaque build-up is too severe, it might need to be removed and cleaned at the orthodontist occasionally. Otherwise, they are generally left in your mouth indefinitely.
Every individual has a different oral anatomy and it is best to consult with your orthodontist as to which retainer is the best one for you. Each style of retainer comes with their own unique strengths and weaknesses, so it’s advisable to take your personal habits and lifestyle when deciding on which retainer you choose to maintain a beautiful smile. The type of retainer you pick will be a constant in your life over many years, so it’s important to find the one that you find most comfortable to use properly on a long-term basis.