Are you looking to buy a retainer? Thankfully, you aren’t stuck with one kind. There are several types of retainers and each has its pros and cons. One type may be a better choice for you than another. Continue reading to find out which retainer is best for you.
What is the Purpose of a Retainer?
A retainer is most commonly used after someone gets their braces removed. An orthodontist or dentist will fit the patient with a custom-made retainer. This device keeps teeth in place.
Some dental procedures require retainers to maintain the position of the teeth. For example, a retainer helps keep the gap between teeth if a tooth is pulled out so it can heal properly. A retainer is also used when the person needs a crown or tooth implant.
Your teeth naturally shift over time. A person may notice their teeth are moving and want to get a retainer to stop this.
For post-braces care, retainers are essential. The amount of time someone has to wear a retainer can differ from case to case.
They usually have to be worn all of the time for six months to one year. Then, they only have to be on during sleep unless the orthodontist says otherwise.
A patient may have to wear their retainer three to five times a week for the rest of their life after the first six months or year.
Braces straighten out your teeth, but your teeth will easily shift back into their original position if you don’t wear a retainer.
The realignment will loosen your teeth from your gums and the ligaments and fibers holding them in place. These muscles, gums, and also bones need time to get used to the movement of your teeth.
The Types of Retainers
There are three kinds of retainers. Essix and Hawley wire retainers are removable. Fixed retainers are permanent.
1. Clear Plastic Retainers
Clear plastic retainers can be made out of plastic or polyurethane. They’re also called vacuum form retainers or VFRs because a device vacuum forms the retainer material over a model of a patient’s teeth.
Many people prefer VFRs as they are basically invisible. You don’t have to worry about others noticing you’re wearing a retainer.
VFRs are thinner than other kinds of retainers and could be a more comfortable option. Because they’re fitted and fully cover your teeth, your teeth stay in the exact same place. If there’s any shifting, you can wear your VFR to correct it.
VFRs are easy to remove when you have to eat or brush your teeth. This retainer prevents people from wearing down their teeth due to grinding.
It can even fill in a missing tooth if you had to get one pulled. A replacement tooth can be attached to the retainer and will fit perfectly in your mouth.
VFRs are convenient because you can order multiple sets in case you damage or lose your retainer. They are more affordable than other kinds of retainers.
Although they stop teeth from wearing down, the retainer wears down. Clear retainers don’t last as long as the other types do. You may have to get a new VFR every year.
It’s nice that they’re practically invisible, but it makes them very easy to lose.
If you lose your clear retainer, have no fear! SportingSmiles has you covered with our high-quality Essix and Essix Plus retainers available for less than your dentist charges.
The teeth are fully covered so they remain in their exact place. However, some patients may be bothered by this coverage. VFRs may not be bulky, but they completely cover the teeth.
Your top and bottom teeth won’t truly meet when you wear this retainer. There are orthodontists that believe your teeth should meet in order to promote them settling in their places. Some professionals feel VFRs should only be worn when the patient sleeps.
You have to remove your VFR every time you drink something other than water. You should especially avoid fizzy beverages. Drinking with your retainer on will lead to tooth decay.
2. Hawley Wire Retainer
These retainers can be a bit more expensive than VFRs, but they last longer. Hawley retainers can last up to 20 years.
If they’re damaged you can get them repaired rather than paying for a new set. You can make minor adjustments to the retainer for a better fit.
Like VFRs, they’re easy to remove when you eat or brush your teeth. It’s more difficult to stain this kind of retainer. VFRs are clear so any staining will be visible.
Hawley retainers don’t interfere with a patient’s natural bite like VFRs do. Your bite is allowed to adjust more comfortably. Many people prefer these retainers because they only have a wire going across the teeth rather than totally covering the teeth.
You can also choose from a ton of designs and colors.
Even though you can get a Hawley retainer with a fun design, a lot of people don’t like that you can see the metal wire.
An alternative to the Hawley retainer is the ASTICS retainer, which has a clear wire instead of a metal one.
Hawley retainers have a bulky base that may be uncomfortable for some patients. It could be difficult to speak at first and swallow normally.
They don’t protect against teeth grinding and allow for more teeth movement than VFRs, particularly the bottom teeth.
They’re more expensive to replace if they get lost or break.
3. Fixed Retainers
Fixed retainers are also known as bonded or lingual wire retainers. These retainers are permanently glued onto the back of the teeth. They are meant to last forever, although some patients can get them removed if their teeth are settled in.
The wire is usually made of titanium, copper, nickel, or a combination of these. An alternative to metal is a reinforced fiber wire.
There are fixed canine retainers and multi-strand stainless steel wire retainers. Fixed canine retainers are only cemented to the canine teeth. They don’t prevent any other tooth from shifting.
Multi-stranded stainless steel wire retainers are attached to the labial segment of the teeth.
Fixed retainers are invisible to other people and there are no issues with talking, eating, or drinking. It’s difficult to damage a fixed retainer and impossible to lose.
Fixed retainers will break if you eat foods that are very hard. They’re the most expensive to buy and replace.
They’re not easy to clean like removable retainers because you can’t take them out of your mouth. You have to use floss threaders to move the floss between your teeth and the retainer.
If you don’t practice proper oral hygiene with this retainer, plaque and tartar will build up and destroy your teeth. You’re also prone to gingivitis and gum disease.
Any of the teeth not bonded to the retainer can shift to their original place. This won’t be a large problem for people who had mild misalignment or only had braces for certain teeth.
The metal wire can irritate your tongue. The reinforced fiber wire tends to break.
Someone with an overbite may not be able to get a fixed retainer behind their upper teeth. The lower teeth will hit the bonded retainer, which will damage both the retainer and the lower teeth.
Which Type of Retainer is Right For You?
A retainer is a must if you’ve gotten your braces removed. You may need a retainer after a dental procedure to keep your teeth from filling a gap.
There are different types of retainers with their own pros and cons. It depends on your preferences and budget. Your orthodontist may recommend a certain retainer based on your case.
Use this guide to decide which retainer to choose.
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