Orthodontic Retainer 101: Types, Merits, Demerits, Costs, and Longevity

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Professional orthodentist

An orthodontic or teeth retainer is a dental appliance that is used after active orthodontic treatments to keep teeth aligned in the right position. After an orthodontic procedure, the bone around the treated teeth hardens and if the teeth are not kept in place then they become misaligned and create a lot of problems in the future.

At TruCare Dentistry, we believe that people who have undergone orthodontic treatments must wear the right retainers as directed by their orthodontists. We design various types of retainers as per the requirements of our patients. In this blog post, we detail the three main types of retainers as well as their advantages, disadvantages, average prices, visibility, and durability. Read on to know more about each type of retainer.

Hawley wire retainers

A Hawley retainer is the most common and most trusted orthodontic retainer that was devised by American orthodontist Dr. Charles Augustus Hawley and made its debut in 1919. The retainer uses a combo of either an acrylic plate or a tough plastic material that is attached by a slim metal wire with two omega loops, or Adams clasps, and a labial bow.

Some of the biggest advantages of Hawley retainers are that they can be adjusted as per the palate and the color, which makes them practically invisible. They also last long and can be repaired. But on the flip side, they need cleaning daily and can be easily misplaced or lost due to their transparency.

Clear plastic retainers

Clear plastic retainers, also known as molded retainers, vacuum-formed retainers, thermoplastic retainers, or Essix® retainers, were introduced by renowned orthodontist Dr. John Sheridan in 1993. Since then, removable retainers have gained popularity as they look like Invisalign aligners as well as are more comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and cost-effective than other teeth retainers.

They are made up of clear plastic or polyurethane, which makes them virtually unnoticeable. An orthodontist creates clear plastic retainers by creating a mold of the teeth and filling the mold with the clear plastic in their laboratory or office. Once the material matches the mold, the dentist uses a vacuum device to create a stunning replica of the teeth. The price of clear plastic retainers ranges from $225 to $550 for one arch (top or bottom). They can last up to three to four years and after that, they will tear or become yellow.

Like Hawley wire retainers, clear plastic retainers are unnoticeable and easily adjustable.Wearers don’t need to follow instructions to wear clear plastic retainers. But their disadvantages are that they need regular cleaning but are hard to clean.

Bonded permanent retainers

Also known as fixed retainers, bonded permanent retainers were introduced by celebrated Norwegian orthodontists Dr. Jon Årtun and Dr. Bjorn Zachrisson in 1982. They understood the benefits of using multi-stranded wires as fixed retainers and enhanced the properties of a composite resin material for direct bonding.

An orthodontist places fixed retainers by custom fitting multi-stranded wires to the rear end of your teeth and bonds them in the right position. Fixed retainers are generally used for lower teeth and are suitable for people who don’t want to put and remove their teeth retainers now and then. The cost of the bonded permanent retainers ranges between $250 to $550 per wire (both upper and lower) and it can last more than 20 years. A study conducted in 2018 found that Lingual fixed retainers are the most durable type of  retainers. The same study found that fixed retainers are the most frequently used with 47 percent of the respondents using them.

Some of the advantages of fixed retainers are that they:

  • Can keep your teeth in place round the clock
  • Are practically unnoticeable
  • Don’t hamper speech
  • Can be adjusted and repaired
  • Some of the disadvantages of fixed retainers are that they:
  • Can break or loosen
  • Can make flossing difficult and uncomfortable
  • Take longer to design and create compared to removable retainers

How long should you wear your orthodontic retainer?

According to expert orthodontists, people who have undergone orthodontic treatments must wear their teeth retainer full-time from six months to two years as per the directions of their dentists. But various studies show that many people don’t wear their orthodontic retainers properly. One leading British research found that a quarter of patients don’t wear their retainers as directed by their orthodontists.

A study conducted published in Science Daily found that six in every ten patients wore their retainers for more than ten hours daily in the first three months after their orthodontic procedure and many of them wore their retainers during the night. But 19 to 24 months after the treatment, only two out of every ten patients wore their retainers.

Finally, it may be concluded

When it comes to keeping your teeth in proper shape and position after orthodontic treatment, teeth retainers play a huge role. They keep your teeth in place till the bone around them becomes firm enough to hold the right position. But there are three different types of teeth retainers and they have various advantages and disadvantages.

At TruCare Dentistry, we take the needs and various other factors into consideration before creating the right retainer for our patients. If you are considering getting an orthodontic retainer in Roswell, GA, and are looking for a dentist near you, then contact us to schedule an appointment.