"How important are retainers?" is probably the second most common question I get after “when will I get my braces off?”. The job of retainers is to retain teeth in the position they were left when the braces were removed. The three typical types of retainers are clear retainers, semi-permanent retainers and Hawleys. Each retainer has its advantages and disadvantages.
A clear retainer does a great job holding teeth in place. I compare it to a glove because it molds perfectly to the teeth. It is removable and esthetic making it our most popular option. However, the retainers do need to be replaced every 2-3 years depending on multiple factors. These include if you are a grinder, if you are keeping them clean and how often you wear them.
A semi-permanent retainer is bonded to the inside surface of the teeth. This is a non-removable option and must be flossed with a floss threader. If a portion of the retainer breaks and you are unaware, the teeth will shift. Excellent hygiene is required to keep this retainer on without acquiring gingivitis and other dental problems.
A Hawley is generally the longest lasting retainer made of acrylic and wire. This retainer generally does a good job however, slight tooth movement is possible with a Hawley due to the retention mechanics.
Ultimately, all types of retainers work if they are worn and taken care of. They require little work for the investment made during your time with braces. If you have any questions or need a new retainer, please call us at Top Smile Orthodontics.