Once it’s time to get your braces off, you know the hard part is finally over. Dental cleanings will be a breeze, and you won’t have to worry about food bits getting stuck in the wires. Your pearly whites are perfectly straight and you’re ready to show them off to the world!
What many people forget in their excitement to lose all the wires and brackets is that teeth won’t naturally stay in alignment forever. A retainer is necessary after braces to keep your new look. Here’s everything you need to know about selecting the perfect retainer for your needs.
There’s more than one retainer type. The most common types of retainers after braces fall into one of two categories: fixed and removable. As the names indicate, a fixed or permanent retainer is securely bonded to the back of the teeth. It’s not going anywhere. The removable options offer the convenience of being able to remove it. In the removable category, there are two basic types: Hawley, made of metal and acrylic, and Essix retainers which consist of a hard clear plastic.
Both types of retainers have pros and cons. Fixed retainers are cemented to the back of the teeth and often use a wire to maintain the new tooth alignment. The downside is that flossing will need to be more precise and may require a threader or other cleaning device. The wearer might need dental wax to mitigate any potential discomfort on the tongue or cheeks. The fixed retainer can feel like having braces on the back of the teeth, so some of the same accommodations may be necessary to properly care for your teeth.
Removable retainers allow the wearers to take them out when they eat or clean their teeth. That said, it’s important to wear your retainer regularly, especially for the first
several months. There’s also the chance that a removable retainer is lost to a pet, accidentally make its way to the trash or change shape due to heat or other damage.
Choose a removable retainer that fits your needs. If you’re going the removable route, you’ll want to decide between the Essix and Hawley. Hawley retainers have the advantage of being basically invisible, but they can wear out relatively quickly. Essix retainers stand up to the test of time with proper care, but they are
noticeable and may impair speech until he or she gets comfortable wearing it.
Wearing a retainer isn’t exactly fun, but being knowledgeable about the types of retainers can help keep your teeth perfectly straight forever. Talk to your dentist for more information on which type of retainer is right for you. At TenderCare Dental, our team is happy to help you preserve your newly straightened smile. Regular dental checkups and cleanings can also help mitigate any problems and keep your teeth looking their best. Schedule an appointment at on our eight locations to experience the TenderCare difference!