You have finally completed your term for braces and have the perfect teeth, however, you will still need a teeth retainer.

You cannot bail out this soon.

Retainers help to keep your newly aligned and straight teeth in position.

As soon as you remove braces you need to put them on for at least six months to a year.

If you do not, then you may regret that in 10 years’ time or sooner.

Keep reading this article to know how retainers are important for your teeth.

woman showing importance of teeth retainer after braces

Importance of Teeth Retainer

Teeth align into perfect position after getting braces.

You can finally eat easily and flaunt your perfect smile.

However, a little patience will take you far.

The constant chewing and wear of the teeth can lead to relapse.

The bone and soft tissue need to adjust to the new positioning.

Therefore retainers help to stabilize teeth in their position to prevent any relapse.

Moreover, if you wore retainers for misaligned, crooked and teeth with gaps then it will take longer to stabilize them.

They help to hold the teeth firmly in their new place which was not where they were before.

Hence, it is extremely important to wear them if you had gaps, an underbite or an overbite.

Retainers are also vital for making enough space for wisdom teeth.

Most people get braces around when they are preteens or teenagers.

Usually, people get wisdom teeth between the age of 17 to 21.

Wearing retainers during this time helps to make up space for wisdom teeth.

This helps to ensure that there is no shifting or crowding of the wisdom teeth because of any lack of space.

Hence, it helps to keep teeth straight and in a new position (rather than the original positions)and do not cause any crowding allowing the wisdom teeth to erupt easily.

Though they not only help with the teeth but also with your speech.

A retainer can give your speech clarity if you have difficulty while pronouncing some words.

If you suffer from tongue thrust whereby the tongue reaches the teeth frequently while speaking, then a tongue cage retainer can prevent this.

Also, a retainer helps to guide how your mouth should pronounce words correctly.

However, most of all they help to prevent relapse and wasting your entire braces orthodontic treatment. More on that later.

First, let’s found out the different types available.

woman holding a case of teeth retainer types

Types of Teeth Retainer

The two main types are fixed and removable.

Though removable ones are further divided into two categories of clear plastic and Hawley.

The fixed ones are also called bonded, permanent or lingual. Let’s discuss its advantages and disadvantages first.

fixed and permanent wire inside teeth

Fixed Retainer (Permanent)

It consists of a metal wire that fits your teeth’ shape.

The wire is firmly attached (or bonded) to the insides of the front teeth.

You cannot remove them or take them out to eat or drink as the name suggests.

They will remain in your teeth at all times just like braces did.

Patients or children who may not wear removable ones regularly are better off wearing permanent ones.

Moreover, these are usually in place forever unless you need to remove them for plaque buildup or gum irritation.

Though it has its own set of pros and cons.

Pros:

  • You do not need to worry about wearing and removing your retainers.
  • Other people cannot see it.
  • There will be no damage.
  • You won’t remove them and misplace them because they are permanent.
  • It does not affect your speech.
  • Better for children who find it hard to follow instructions and remember when to wear and remove them.

Cons:

  • It is on your teeth indefinitely so it is a matter of choice but some may dislike that.
  • In some cases, the metal wire bonded may cause irritation in your tongue.
  • Oral hygiene is compromised since flossing is difficult with the wire in place. Therefore, there is a risk of tartar and plaque leading to gingivitis.

These are usually on your lower teeth.

They also need regular cleaning which can be done using a threader to get floss under the wire and clean plaque.

Though cleaning is much easier in removable ones.

Removable Retainers

The two kinds of removable ones are Hawley and clear plastic.

woman wearing clear plastic

Clear Platic (molded)

These types of vacuum form retainers are made of clear plastic and are molded to fit the curves of your teeth. Hence, their other name is molded.

After you get off your braces, your dentist takes a mold of your teeth.

Then plastic covers the mold after heating.

A clear plastic retainer looks similar to Invisalign or other clear aligners.

You can wear them on and take them out like a mouth tray.

The advantages are that since it is clear plastic, they are almost invisible.

Therefore, if you go out, not many people will be able to notice them and you can carry out your daily activities as usual without being conscious of your look.

This also means that you will be up for wearing it most of the time hence, reducing chances of relapse.

Also, they are not bulky and do not hinder your speech as their alternative, the Hawley retainer does.

However, it also has a few cons.

The plastic ones are susceptible to cracks. They may crack and become uncomfortable to wear in your mouth.

However, you cannot repair them if that happens, you will have to get a new set.

Also, it will discolor rapidly over time and may get a yellow shade soon since it is clear. That can look unpleasant while wearing.

While they do not hinder speech as much as Hawley, they still pose a slight speech impediment worse than permanent retainers.

Moreover, their shape is fixed. You can’t readjust them if there is an alignment issue but will need a new set.

Also, these retainers cover your teeth hence they prevent your upper and lower teeth from touching naturally.

That can be uncomfortable for many especially while speaking.

Its plastic material is also susceptible to warp because of heat so you will have to take care of it.

Moreover, there is also a risk of tooth cavity as you can keep it on while drinking but it can trap those liquids.

This brings us to…

hawley retainers

Hawley Retainers

These are a thin single wire of plastic, acrylic or metal material.

It fits the inside of the teeth and roof of the mouth while also going through the outside of teeth to hold them in place and keep the teeth in alignment.

It is removable so you can take it off for eating or drinking.

Furthermore, it lasts more than clear plastic ones as it is not prone to crack or warp in heat.

However, even if it cracks or breaks you can repair it.

This is why it can last very long if you take proper care of it.

Moreover, since it is a wire, you can easily adjust it if you need to realign your teeth again or need a better fit for your teeth.

Also, your top and bottom teeth touch naturally in a Hawley retainer.

However, as the wire also goes outside your teeth then it is more visible than other retainers.

Moreover, it does pose some speech impediments while talking.

There is also a chance that the wire may cut or irritate your lips and cheeks.

Amongst the two removable retainers, clear plastic ones are a more popular choice comparatively.

teeth retainers care

Care and Considerations

As soon as you get your retainers, you should vow to wear them regularly.

It is easy to let go of removable ones and not wear them regularly.

This would mean that in a time of 10 years or less, you will have to get braces again.

Hence, it is essential that you wear your retains 24/7 in the first six months and only take them out to eat.

In the next six months, keep wearing them at night.

However, some dentists may suggest that you wear it all the time for a year and after that at night for the rest of your life to keep them in position.

It is better that you never stop wearing them as this way the teeth will remain firmly in their position.

However, you may have to replace them after few years to adjust to the fit of your teeth.

Moreover, your dentist will keep a check if you wear them regularly and if they are keeping the teeth in position.

If they need adjustments then they will fix them accordingly.

Therefore it is of utmost importance that you wear retainers regularly.

If you even skip for a few weeks, your teeth may move and your teeth retainers may not fit anymore.

Care 

You need to clean your teeth retainer regularly so that you don’t develop any plaque or cavities.

Fixed retainers are with your teeth hence they do not have a different hygiene routine.

They will, however, need a floss threader to get rid of all the plaque and tartar buildup around them.

Also, brush thoroughly both vertically and horizontally at a 45-degree angle to remove any bacteria stuck in the wires.

You can dip your removable retainers in lukewarm water whenever you remove them.

Clean it thoroughly with slightly warm water to prevent any food from becoming hard on it.

Also, use a brush with soft bristles and toothpaste to thoroughly clean them once a day inside out.

But be mindful to only use non-abrasive toothpaste that does not destroy them.

If you get any food stuck then use a cotton ball and dip it in water to remove it.

Though take special care to not use any abrasives, don’t boil it, or even mistakenly put it in a dishwasher.

Clean them delicately so they do not crack or break.

So Summing Up

Teeth retainer is as necessary as braces.

If you do not wear them, you will render the entire process useless.

Hence, it is beneficial for you to be regular with your retainers. If you feel you will not do so then get fixed ones.

However, do not sacrifice your effort, time and money for a years’ consistency.

Be patient and you will be able to smile confidently and flaunt your teeth without any braces or retainer within a year.