What Kind of a Retainer Do I Need?

What Kind of a Retainer Do I Need?

We know you’re excited to get rid of the hardware in your mouth after a long bout with braces or aligners, but your journey isn’t quite over yet. 

At Centerport Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry in Portland, Oregon, we love to celebrate with our patients on braces removal day and at the end of their aligner treatments, but you might want to hold off on the balloons and streamers for a while, because the retainer phase of your treatment is just beginning.

Dr. Benjamin C. Wang specializes in all aspects of cosmetic dentistry and has seen what can happen to months of straightening efforts when patients don’t wear their retainers as instructed. The good news is that you have a few options to choose from, and Dr. Wang helps you navigate the pros and cons of each.

Three main types of retainers

Retainers have been around as long as braces have, and they are a critical phase of your treatment. While your braces or aligners shifted your teeth and made a dramatic difference, retainers take your teeth the rest of the way to their final position. And just as important, they prevent your teeth from shifting back to their original crooked position. 

While all retainers are very effective, they each have different designs and characteristics. There are three main types of retainers to get the job done:

Dr. Wang gives you his expert advice to help you choose the right retainer for you. Here are some of the factors to help you make the decision.

Choose a permanent retainer if … 

Bonded to the backside of your teeth, the fixed retainer works behind the scenes. Choose this type if:

With no moving parts, the fixed retainer stays put and is pretty comfortable, but keep in mind that food may get stuck in the wires, and you’ll need to use floss threaders to get in between your teeth. 

Choose a clear aligner-style retainer if …

If you used Invisalign® to straighten your teeth — or wish you had — you may enjoy a retainer made in the same style. These clear plastic trays snap over your teeth just like the clear aligners. Choose this type if:

Keep in mind that these are removable plastic trays that are easily lost or broken, so if that’s a probability — for example, if you play sports or grind your teeth — it’s best to go with a different style. 

Choose a Hawley retainer if …

The Hawley removable retainer is the one most people picture when they think of retainers. It has a molded acrylic piece that fits the roof of your mouth, as well as metal wires that wrap around your teeth. Choose the Hawley retainer if:

For all it’s benefits, the Hawley retainer comes with a few cons, including an adjustment period to get used to talking and swallowing with it in, a visible metal wire, and excess saliva production.

Still can’t decide?

If you still can’t decide which type of retainer is best for you, don’t worry — that’s why we’re here. Dr. Wang explains all the pros and cons of each retainer style and lets you know if one is better than another for your unique situation. 

To learn more about your retainer options, schedule an appointment by calling our friendly staff or booking a consultation online today. 

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