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Retainers – What You Need to Know about Them

December 28, 2015
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Posted By: Dr. Natasha

What are retainers?

Retainers are basically orthodontic appliances that are custom-made whose main purpose is to hold or �retain’ the teeth. Once the braces come off, the teeth must be allowed to settle in jaw bones as well as the soft tissues that hold them into place. Retainers are made of plastic/solid plastic and wire. Custom-made retainers keep the teeth from shifting.

As people advance in age, their teeth begin shifting. Retainers assist to control this age-related shifting that occurs naturally. Wearing retainers exactly as instructed gives results that last for a lifetime; as matter of fact, it’s the best insurance for orthodontic treatment

Is it comfortable to wear retainers?

Any time a person wears retainers, the teeth may feel some pressure; the teeth may even feel sore on certain occasions. Anytime you experience this discomfort that is always temporary, do not worry- its normal. The more frequently you wear it, the more you get used to it and the more comfortable you will feel

For how long are retainers worn

Doctors advice patients to wear retainers for at least a year. During this time you can wear the retainers part-time or full-time as you monitor the stability of your teeth. During this period you can also monitor the development and growth of wisdom teeth.

Types of retainers

* Retainers that are removable

Hawley retainers

These are the most common types of retainers. Hawley retainers are specially designed and consist of clasps and wires that are embedded in a plastic body that is relatively thick. This plastic body assists in covering the roof of the mouth and lies along the tongue-side of the lower teeth. The clasps assist in grasping the selected teeth as the retainer gets anchored securely. Retaining 'bow’ wires arch across the front-side of the teeth holding and maintaining the alignments

Clear retainers

These types of retainers are vacuum-formed appliances that are very clear; even though they are less noticeable, they do not have the life-span of Hawley retainers

Fixed retainers

Fixed retainers can also be referred to as permanents or bonded retainers. As the above names suggest, they are the types of appliances that are attached or bonded directly to the back-sides of front teeth (three teeth right of the centre and three teeth left of the center). Retainers that are fixed do not hold or even touch back teeth; this is because its never possible having a wire that goes round the whole mouth. This means that the back teeth are vulnerable to movements from time to time. And again, since they are always attached to the teeth, they can never be removed

Why wear retainers?

On most occasions, teeth retainers are used during the last stage of orthodontic treatments. Once the braces get removed, the teeth shift back to their initial position. Retainers that are worn overnight can assist in maintaining the position of teeth that are straightened.

Advantages of using retainers

  • They chew away bacteria- straighter teeth are always easier to clean
  • They assist in simplifying diabetes- when worn correctly, they keep the teeth aligned and offset the risks oral health. Poor oral health leads to blood related effects that are associated with diabetes
  • They improve breathing
  • They assist with speech impediments
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