Retainers: your smile’s lifelong friend.
After you’ve completed your orthodontic treatment, finding and using the best retainers for teeth is key to maintaining the beautiful smile you’ve achieved. Without retainers, your teeth will shift out of position and ruin your new smile.
Those who have completed treatment are often surprised to hear that there are various retainer types. In this blog, we explain everything you need to know about retainers, from the types of permanent retainers to clear retainers for teeth you can take out at night.
Why Do Patients Need A Retainer For Teeth?
Retainers are an essential part of the process after braces or other orthodontic work. Without a retainer, your teeth can quickly shift back to their original positions, undoing all the hard work you’ve put in! Retainers help maintain the new position of your teeth and ensure that your results are long-lasting.
One common question is, “How long should I wear a retainer for teeth after braces?” In reality, you should wear your retainer every night post-treatment to maintain your results. It’s common for people to wear their retainers regularly after completing treatment, but that discipline tends to wear off over time.
At Bates Orthodontics, we see retainers are your smile’s lifelong companion!
What Are The Best Retainers For Teeth?
You may wonder, “What’s the best retainer after braces?”
The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. Just as each person’s dental needs vary, your ideal retainer type will also vary based on several factors, including lifestyle, personal preferences, and your orthodontist’s recommendation.
Bonded retainers – also known as fixed or “permanent” retainers – are thin wires bonded to the back of your teeth. This type of retainer remains in place indefinitely. The advantage of a bonded retainer is that it works around the clock to prevent teeth from moving out of position, which is especially helpful for patients who know they won’t be diligent about wearing a removable retainer every night.
- Invisibility: Fixed retainers are bonded to the back of the teeth, making them nearly invisible to others.
- Consistency: Because they’re attached to your teeth, there’s no risk of forgetting to wear them.
- Prevention: They’re particularly effective at preventing teeth from returning to their original positions.
- Cleaning Challenges: Fixed retainers can be harder to clean, which may lead to plaque buildup or potential gum problems.
- Potential Damage: There’s a risk of the retainer wire breaking, which can go unnoticed.
- Eating Restrictions: Some foods can damage or dislodge the retainer.
Bonded retainers usually cost between $250–$500, with sets coming in at $500–$1,000.
Essix retainers are custom-made, clear, and removable. They are formed to fit over your teeth like a glove, similar to Invisalign aligners. If a patient suffers from bruxism (teeth grinding) or requires a mouth guard, Essix retainers are often a great choice.
- Removability: They can be easily removed.
- Aesthetic Appeal: Essix retainers are clear and virtually invisible when worn.
- Comfort: Made of smooth plastic, they can be more comfortable than metal retainers.
- Less Durable: Essix retainers may wear out more quickly than metal options, especially if patients grind their teeth.
- Discoloration: Since Essix retainers are clear, they may become discolored over time if they aren’t cleaned regularly.
Essix retainers cost between $100–$250 per arch.
Hawley retainers are the most traditional and commonly used retainer types. They have a hard plastic or acrylic base that’s molded to fit the patient’s palate (for the upper arch) or to sit along the inside of the lower teeth (for the lower arch). A thin metal wire runs across the front of the teeth, helping maintain their position.
- Removability: They can be easily removed.
- Durability: Made of sturdy acrylic and metal, these retainers are built to last and are often repairable.
- Adjustability: Orthodontists can adjust them if minor tooth movements are required.
- Customizability: The acrylic plate is customizable with various colors and designs.
- Visibility: This retainer type is the most noticeable, but if you’re only wearing them at night, this is less of an issue.
- Comfort Issues: Some patients find the acrylic base uncomfortable against the roof of their mouth.
- Wear and Tear: The acrylic can wear down or the metal components might get bent if not handled with care.
Hawley retainers usually cost between $150–$300 each and $250–$600 per set.
Your orthodontist will determine which type of retainer will best suit your needs.
How To Get Retainers For Teeth Replaced
Misplacing or damaging your retainer can cause anxiety, especially after investing time and money into orthodontic treatment. Many individuals lose or damage their retainers at some point after getting their braces removed. The key is to act promptly to ensure your teeth don’t return to their previous positions. In most cases, the orthodontist who treated you can replace your retainer quickly if you contact them as soon as possible.
Do You Need To See Your Original Provider?
While visiting your original orthodontist (as they have your records and are familiar with your treatment history) can be beneficial, it’s not strictly necessary. If you’ve moved or can’t see your initial provider for some reason, a new orthodontist can assist you. They’ll assess your teeth, determine if there’s been any movement, and then provide you with a new retainer.
How To Prevent Future Retainer Problems
To avoid future mishaps, follow these tips:
- Always Store Your Retainer: Whenever you’re not wearing your retainer, place it in its designated case. This reduces the risk of misplacement or accidental damage.
- Clean It Regularly: Regular cleaning ensures the longevity of your retainer. And never eat with your retainer in!
- Have Regular Checkups: Make it a habit to see your orthodontist regularly. They can spot issues early and advise on the health and fit of your retainer.
Ensuring you take the utmost care of your retainers is critical.
Find The Right Retainer For You With Bates Orthodontics
The best retainers for teeth are different for each person. At Bates Orthodontics, we offer Essix retainers, Hawley retainers and bonded retainers to lock in your beautiful smile.
Once your treatment is complete, our team will:
- Scan your teeth and send the model off to the lab.
- Our lab will build the retainer that fits your needs and preferences.
- At your last appointment, you will receive your new retainer.
- Finally, you’ll wear your retainer for-ev-er.
Contact Bates Orthodontics to learn about our Retainers for Life program because when life happens, we want to be there to help! Book a free consultation with us today.