Retainers are typically recommended for post orthodontic treatment, to prevent unwanted movement of the teeth and keep them straight. Retainers either come as removable appliances or fixed to the teeth. Several factors dictate which type of retainer will be recommended. Retainers are a critical phase of orthodontic treatment, called “retention.” Teeth that don’t have retention pose the risk of shifting or rotating over time. It is essential to discuss what type of retainer and length of use is recommended for you with your dentist/orthodontist.
This type of retainer is an appliance that can be put in and taken out for use. That means that the retainer is only acting as retention for the teeth when it is being worn. Removable retainers are either clear plastic trays or wire appliances. Typically if a removable retainer is selected, it is recommended to wear it at all times besides eating/drinking and brushing/flossing for the first several months. Afterward, they are usually recommended to wear at night. The benefit of a removable retainer is that it can be removed for proper brushing and flossing. The downside is that if not appropriately worn or enough, the teeth have the potential for shifting.
Fixed retainers are retentive wires that are bonded into place on the back of the teeth. These wires usually span from one canine tooth to the next canine tooth on the bottom teeth, and from the lateral incisor to the next lateral incisor on the top teeth. The goal of a fixed retainer is to maintain the position of teeth by preventing shifting. Fixed retainers retain the teeth 24/7 and don’t require patient compliance. The difficulty with fixed retainers is that they are challenging to clean and make flossing more problematic. Flossing a fixed retainer requires a specific tool called a floss threader to loop the floss underneath, which can be challenging to get the hang of.
If you believe you may benefit from a fixed or removable retainer, or have any questions about them, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.