What is a retainer?
After you have completed your orthodontic treatment and your teeth are properly aligned, our orthodontists Dr. Ali Rad will provide you with a retainer. This simple oral appliance is custom made to fit your teeth perfectly and keep them in their proper positions
Types of retainers
A retainer is a custom-made oral appliance often used to maintain the alignment of your teeth after orthodontic treatment. If you have finished your orthodontic treatment, we may recommend a retainer to keep your smile properly aligned. As you age, your teeth tend to shift; the retainer ensures that your teeth remain in correct alignment for optimal oral health, functionality and appearance. There are three main types of retainers available:
Hawley retainers consist of wires and clasps embedded in a plastic body that covers the roof of the mouth (for the upper arch) or lies along the tongue-side of the teeth (for the lower arch). The clasps fit around certain teeth to anchor the retainer in place, while the wire arches across the front of the teeth to maintain their alignment.
Clear retainers are made of clear plastic and fit snugly over the teeth. A clear retainer is usually more discreet than a Hawley retainer, although it may not be as durable.
Fixed retainers, also called bonded or permanent retainers, are permanently attached to the backside of the front teeth. They prevent the teeth from shifting out of place and can only be removed by a dental professional.
Frequently asked questions
My treatment is done. Why do I need a retainer?
While it is true that your treatment may be finished, your teeth and jaw ligaments still need time to settle into their new positions. A retainer ensures that your teeth will maintain their new alignment.
What is a retainer?
A retainer is an oral appliance that, depending on your needs, is often made of plastic or acrylic. You will wear it as directed by our orthodontists. Some people need to wear a retainer for a period of months, others may need to wear one while they sleep for the rest of their lives. There are three basic types of retainers: Clear retainers are often used following a treatment such as Invisalign® clear aligners and are made of clear plastic; however, they may be used after other types of treatments. Because of their clarity, they are a more aesthetic option, but they may not be as durable as other types of appliances. Fixed retainers are permanently bonded to the back of the teeth. This type of retainer can only be removed by our dentists or another dental professional. Hawley retainers are the most common type of retainer. They are made of acrylic or plastic and fit against the roof of the mouth or along the inside of the lower teeth. The retainer has metal clasps that attach to certain teeth and a wire that runs along the front of the teeth to help maintain alignment.
How do I care for my retainer?
You should gently brush your retainer every day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a nonabrasive toothpaste. Some whitening toothpastes may be too abrasive for your retainer. Retainers can be very expensive to replace, and when you are not wearing yours, you should keep it its case. If you have had a fixed retainer placed, our orthodontists and team will show you how to brush and floss to keep it and your smile clean. If you break or lose your retainer, contact our office as soon as possible.