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Once you get your braces off, you may think your orthodontic treatment ends there. That’s not necessarily the case! Your braces may be gone, but your teeth still think they should move. We must let them know it’s time to stop moving so you can enjoy your beautiful new smile. That’s where retainers come in! 

Retainers hold your teeth in place after removing your braces or Invisalign clear aligners. Your teeth have moved for the last several months, but retainers stop them in their tracks. This allows your jawbone to harden and hold your teeth in place. Appel Orthodontics offers different types of retainers. that will hold your teeth where they should be, giving you a smile you can be proud to show off for a lifetime.  

Types of Retainers

There are three main types of retainers. Two of them are removable, while the third is fixed in place. Here is a brief explanation of each type of retainer. 

  • Hawley retainers These are the classic, well-known retainers made from a combination of wire and acrylic material. The acrylic is custom-molded to your mouth and holds wires that fit around your teeth and hold them in place. Hawley retainers are removable. 
  • Essix retainers Also called clear retainers, look like clear aligners such as Invisalign. They are made from a custom-molded acrylic material that fits over your teeth and holds them in place without wires. Essex retainers can be removed. 
  • Permanent retainers Also called lingual retainers, bonded retainers, or fixed retainers, this type of retainer is bonded to the back of your front lower teeth, which tend to move after braces most. These retainers aren’t removable like the others are. However, “permanent” is a bit of a misnomer, as they only last up to 20 years before needing replacement. 

Types of Retainers Pros and Cons

The Hawley and Essex retainers have the advantage of being removed for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. After several months, they can be worn for less time daily, which means they can be removed during the day. However, the drawback is that these retainers can be lost or damaged if not stored properly. You also can forget to wear them for the time needed, which means your teeth can move out of place because the retainers aren’t being worn. 

Permanent retainers can’t get lost because they are bonded to your teeth. They can be damaged, though it takes some effort. A fixed retainer also needs to be replaced every 20 years or so. They also make brushing and flossing more difficult, leading to tooth decay around the bonded retainer. 

How Do Retainers Work? 

During the braces process, gentle pressure is applied to your teeth by your braces or Invisalign. This pressure breaks down the bone around your tooth’s root, allowing the tooth to move. As it moves, the jaw rebuilds itself behind the tooth, holding the tooth in place. It makes the bone less hard, which makes it easier for the teeth to move. 

Once you finish your braces treatment, your teeth are where they need to be, but the jawbone is still soft enough to allow them to move. It takes several months for the jawbone to harden again. In the meantime, the teeth can move if left alone. That’s why you have to wear a retainer. 

The retainer holds the teeth in place until the jaw hardens. We encourage patients to wear retainers at least 22 hours daily for 6-12 months until the jaw hardens. The retainer can be removed for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. After the jaw sets, the time can be reduced to overnight, but you will still need to wear them long-term. 

Caring for Your Retainers

Your removable retainers need proper care to last as long as possible. We have several tips on how to care for retainers. Here are a few of those suggestions. 

  • Remove your retainers before eating or drinking. Hard foods or hot liquids can damage your retainers. You can also stain them. Removing your retainers protects them and keeps you from becoming clogged with food particles. 
  • Keep your retainers stored. Ensure you store your retainers, whether they be plastic retainers or wire retainers, in a storage container when not in your mouth. Keep your container out of reach of children or pets. They can damage your retainers. 
  • Clean your retainers daily. Bacteria that builds up in your mouth builds up on your retainers. You’re putting that bacteria back into your mouth without proper cleaning. Gross, right? Make sure you clean your retainers properly every day. 
  • Call us if your retainers are damaged. Contact Appel Orthodontics if your custom clear retainers no longer fit or have been damaged. We can repair or replace damaged retainers but for a fee. That’s why it’s important to do all you can to keep your retainers safe. 

Retainers in Philadelphia, PA

Appel Orthodontics offers retainers as part of your treatment with braces or Invisalign. You can request a free consultation if you’re ready for braces or Invisalign. We can also answer any questions you have about your retainers. At Appel Orthodontics, we make sure you’re well-informed and comfortable throughout your treatment and beyond!  

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