What are Orthodontic Retainers?
Retainers are the final phase of orthodontic treatment. Retainers are necessary to ensure that your teeth remain in their ideal positions once treatment has been completed. Impressions and measurements for retainers are typically taken during the debonding appointment for regular braces, and the retainers are usually ready a week or two later.
Orthodontic retainers typically come in three main forms:
The Hawley retainer is probably the most common and recognizable form of orthodontic retainer. It is made from a combination of molded wires, clasps, and plastic. Retainers for the top arch are molded to the roof of the mouth, and the bottom arch conforms to the back of the lower teeth. This type of retainer is removable. If your treatment includes a Hawley retainer, you will be able to try it on at the office, and your orthodontist will make any adjustments to make sure it fits comfortably. Hawley retainers need to be brushed and cleaned regularly, and stored in a hard case for protection when not being worn.
Retainers may also be formed from clear, flexible plastic made from a custom impression of your teeth. Clear retainers fit over your teeth, much like an [Invisalign] aligner. Clear retainers also come with a special case and need to be maintained and cleaned carefully. While clear retainers may not be as noticeable as a Hawley retainer, they are more susceptible to wear and tear, and may need to be replaced more often. In addition, it may be easier to lose a clear retainer.
Fixed retainers are bonded permanently to the back of your teeth, on the upper and lower arches. Because fixed retainers cannot be removed for cleaning like Hawley or clear retainers, your orthodontist will provide you with information on how to keep your teeth clean and flossed with the retainer in place. Fixed retainers focus on the front teeth, meaning that the back teeth may shift over time.
Your orthodontist will assess your treatment needs and the possibility of your teeth moving after completion of orthodontic treatment and will recommend the best type of retainer for your needs. With proper care and maintenance, as well as regular checks by the orthodontist, your retainers should help to ensure that your teeth hold their alignment and stay straight and healthy.
Cost and Insurance Coverage for Orthodontic Retainers
Orthodontic retainers are included in your customized treatment plan estimate. If you will be using insurance for your orthodontic treatment, a member of our staff will review your coverage levels. Whether or not you have insurance, retainers and related follow up visits for 1 year are included in our treatment plans, so there are no hidden surprises at the end of your treatment.
Replacing Your Orthodontic Retainer
If you have lost or broken your retainer, or had orthodontic treatment elsewhere and now need a new retainer, we are happy to help. Orthodontic consultations are always complimentary, and orthodontic and retainer services are available at all 1st Family Dental locations. Simply contact us or book an appointment online to meet with an orthodontist.
Where can I get an Orthodontic Retainer?
Orthodontists and orthodontic services are available at all 1st Family Dental locations.
Frequently Asked Questions about orthodontic retainers
Do I really need to have or wear a retainer?
In short: If your orthodontist recommends a retainer, yes. Your teeth and mouth did an amazing thing by moving and changing to make such a dramatic difference. However, that also means that it is possible that your teeth may move again after your orthodontic treatment is complete. Existing wisdom teeth, future extractions, grinding, or simply time can cause your teeth to move and shift away from their ideal positions. The best way to ensure your gorgeous smile lasts a lifetime is by wearing your retainer as recommended by your orthodontist.