Retainers do just as the word describes – they are removable appliances which ‘retain’ the great results you have once your teeth are lovely and straight and you have your braces removed.
When people think of retainers, they most often think of them as looking something like these, with a plastic palate in the mouth and metal ‘bar’ running across the front of the teeth. These are called "Hawley Retainers".
While these are very effective, many patients are disappointed when they realise that their lovely new smile is going to be covered up again with some more metal on their teeth.
The great news for orthodontic patients is that there are much more subtle retainer options available today. Essix retainers are made out of a very thin, clear plastic; like a very thin gumshield, and fit snugly over the teeth to hold them in place.
Essix retainers are almost completely invisible on the teeth and are just as effective at the Hawley retainer at keeping the teeth straight.
Types of retainers at Dermot Kavanagh Orthodontics
When it comes to the retention of your straight teeth, we are, frankly, pretty nerdy! We make every effort to ensure that once you have achieved your perfect smile, you retain the benefits for life.
Clear Essix retainers are the retainers we advise for our patients most often. If it is suitable in your case, we also place fixed bonded retainers behind the teeth. A bonded retainer is a small piece of wire which is stuck to the back of your front teeth, holding them in position.
This ensures that once you care for your retainers your straight teeth will be moving nowhere.
Do I really have to wear retainers?
If you want your teeth to stay straight, the only way to ensure this is by wearing retainers. Therefore, when patients ask how long they need to wear retainers for, the best answer we can give is ‘for as long as you want the teeth to stay straight’. For orthodontic patients (and those who haven’t had any orthodontic treatment) there is always a risk of the teeth moving. However, full-time wear is not necessary. In most cases, after the first 6 months, just wearing your retainers at night will be enough to keep your teeth nice and straight.
And finally, some confusion about ‘Retainers’
When we fit removable orthodontic appliances for our younger patients, we often hear the patient refer to their new braces as 'retainers'. Although they can look very similar to the Hawley retainer, these braces are not ‘retainers’ as they will typically be used to correct an orthodontic problem, rather than ‘retain’ the teeth in their current positions. Yes, we've already admitted it, we are nerdy about retainers!