The key to preserving and stabilizing your smile after orthodontic treatment.
At GFO, each of our treatment plans include retainers and we are proud to offer several types. The phase after orthodontic treatment is known as retention, and retainers are the appliances that help stabilize your results.
Just as our bodies change over time, our teeth and jawbones change too. Not only do teeth have a tendency to return to their original positions, they also naturally tend to crowd and upright over time. Undergoing orthodontic treatment can fix misaligned teeth, but it won’t prevent changes from occurring after it is finished. After treatment, the final positions of teeth can only be maintained with retainers, according to your orthodontist's protocol.
Types of Retainers
Luckily there are different types of retainers. Most are removable, while others are bonded (fixed) behind the teeth. They all share the goal of keeping your teeth straight, but they accomplish this in different ways. The appropriate retainer for you is based on several factors, and Dr. Godley can help guide you in selecting the best one to maintain your results.
A traditional type of of removable retainer is known as a "hawley." It has an acrylic plate that fits on the roof or base of the mouth, and wire that adapts in front of the teeth to maintain alignment. It may also have small clasps to stabilize it in the mouth. Hawleys are durable, adjustable, and tend to be long-lasting.
Another type of removable option is a clear vacuform or "essix" type. Similar to a clear aligner, it is made of a thin transparent plastic that adapts to surfaces of teeth to prevent unwanted shifting. Many patients love that they are esthetic, but they are more prone to breakage and generally need replaced more often. "Vivera" retainers are a common type of clear, invisible, removable retainer.
A fixed or bonded retainer is a thin wire that is bonded or secured to the back of the teeth. There are alternative types of bonded retainers, so Dr. Godley can help you decide which is best for you. This type of retainer is a good option when there’s a high risk that teeth could shift, especially the lower front teeth. A fixed retainer provides good stability, but requires extra hygiene and care to prevent plaque and calculus buildup around the appliance, as this can lead to gum and bone recession. Just like household appliances, fixed retainers will eventually need repaired or replaced.
HOW LONG WILL I NEED RETAINERS?
Retainers are required for as long as you want to keep your teeth aligned.
Though the frequency of wearing them can slowly be decreased over time, retainers are a lifetime commitment and the majority of orthodontists recommend continuing to wear retainers nightly at least 3 times a week indefinitely. Just like any pair of shoes, phone or car -- retainers can wear down and need repaired or replaced over time. It is important to let your orthodontist know right away if retainer is lost, damaged, or broken.