Keeping Your Smile Epic

When your active treatment is complete, you’re ready for retention. The objective of this phase is to ensure the teeth do not move back to their previous positions. A retainer will be used to maintain the improved position of the teeth. A retainer can be a fixed (attached) or removable dental appliance which has been custom-made by Dr. Smith to fit your teeth. Retainers are generally made from transparent plastic or from acrylic and thin wires to optimize the comfort of the patient.

Retainers are worn for varying amounts of time, depending on the type of orthodontic treatment and the age of the patient. Perseverance and commitment are required to make this final stage of treatment successful. If the retainer is not worn as directed, your teeth will start to become crowded and may require additional treatment to get them back where they belong.

Types of Retainers

There are a variety of retainers available; each one geared towards treating a different kind of dental problem. Some types of retainers are:

Hawley retainer – The Hawley retainer consists of a metal wire on an acrylic arch. The metal wire may be periodically adjusted by the orthodontist to ensure the teeth stay in the desired position. The acrylic arch is designed to fit comfortably on the lingual walls or palate of the mouth.

Essix – The Essix retainer is the most commonly used vacuum formed retainer (VFR). A mold is initially made of the teeth in their new alignment, and then a clear thermoplastic tray is created to fit over the teeth. VFR’s are comfortable, easy to use and also provide some of the protection of a mouthguard for patients who tend to grind their teeth.  Plus, they are virtually invisible.

Fixed retainers – A fixed retainer is somewhat similar to lingual braces in that it is affixed to the back of your teeth. It consists of a single wire attached to the back side of your anterior (front) teeth.