Orthodontic Retainer (3 TYPES EXPLAINED IN FULL HERE)

When people think of orthodontics, it is usually a mouth full of braces. In recent times plastic aligners. Yet, at the end of a person’s orthodontic treatment comes a retainer, which may seem like an afterthought. Your new smile will need keeping in place after treatment has finished. In this post, we’ll take you through why you need an orthodontic retainer. And the different retainer types. Let’s get going.


orthodontic retainers


People Also Ask

  • How does orthodontic retainer work?

A retainer works to keep the teeth in their new post-treatment setting. This will be for at least 6 months after treatment completion.


  • Do you have to wear a retainer forever?

In most cases, the minimum would be 6 months. After which you may need to wear them only at night. Fixed retainers will always stay on for life.


The Orthodontic Retainer

The retainer serves an important function. This piece of hardware ensures that your teeth don’t move back to their old positions once the braces come off. As with any piece of orthodontic hardware that is in the line of duty, so to speak, a retainer will wear out.

If you or your family members are at this stage in your orthodontic work, read on. We will explain the different types of retainers. We’ll also explain how long you can expect a removable retainer to last


Bonded or Permanent Retainers

An orthodontic retainer retains the shape of your teeth after treatment. Your orthodontist creates them for you to wear after your braces come off. A couple of different kinds exist. First, your ortho may create a bonded retainer for you. This type of retainer is also called permanent retainers and sometimes wire retainers. When the time comes, your orthodontist will shape a wire to fit your teeth. Then adhere it to the backs of your teeth with orthodontic glue.
Most of the time, you’ll wear this type of retainer on your bottom teeth. These do offer you some convenience. You won’t have to remember to put them into your mouth or to carry them with you when you travel. But, these types of retainers make it more difficult to clean and floss your teeth. Which is a downside for many orthodontic patients.
You can expect this kind of retainer to last up to five years. Though you may find that the glue will start with chip away within the first couple of months. It is possible to have a permanent retainer removed and replaced with another kind



Hawley Retainers

If you’re familiar with retainers at all, it’s likely that it’s the Hawley that you know best. This piece of equipment consists of an acrylic piece that fits the roof of the patient’s mouth. A heavy wire attached to the retainer keeps the front six teeth in place. Sometimes, there is an extra piece of plastic/acrylic over the wire. This is form-fitted to your teeth. Thus making the fit extra snug.

This type of retainer is very hearty. A permanent retainer can start to wear out after three years. The Essix retainer, more on this kind below can wear out after six months. The Hawley retainer is usually good to go for at least five years. And, it has in some cases lasted up to 10 years.


The Hawley retainer is usually good to go for at least five years.


Your ortho should also give you a carrying case for this kind of retainer. It’ll help to keep your retainer clean and to protect it from harm when it’s not in your mouth. Finally, the carrying case will serve as a visual reminder. You are less likely to throw your retainer away if you put it in the case. That is not always the case if you stow your retainer in a napkin to eat in a restaurant.


Essix Retainers

This kind of retainer looks a bit like the Invisalign aligner. In that, it’s a clear plastic piece that you place onto your teeth. Much like a mouth guard worn in sports like football or boxing. You have a pretty good idea of what this type of retainer looks like.)

The Essix retainer appeals to people who need to wear their retainer on a regular basis. Up to 22 hours a day, after their treatment concludes. Because it is clear plastic, it is more difficult to see. Thus, less obtrusive than a retainer with a fitted metal piece.

These retainers have a downside. Over time, they will crack or even break with wear and tear. A good dose of very hot water will also distort the shape of this kind of orthodontic apparatus. They also must remain clean. Always take care before you place them in your mouth. You can expect this type of retainer to last up to three years. it can begin to wear out after six months.


Final Thoughts on How Long Retainers Last

If you are considering braces for yourself or your child, you’ll have questions. One question you will likely ask your orthodontic professional at some point is. “How long do removable retainers last?” It’s an important question because orthodontic work can cost a great deal of money. Getting the right retainer for you or your child is very important.
Your ortho may fit you with a permanent or bonded retainer. The chances are actually very good you will get one of two types of removable retainers – the Hawley or the Essix. An orthodontic retainer serves a very important function. That is to say that all the good effects of wearing braces might be undone if you don’t have a retainer to wear.
An Orthodontic retainer may last as few as six months and up to 10 years. This depends on the kind you get and how well you take care of it. As a rule, a retainer made of acrylic/plastic and metal wires will have a longer shelf life than plastic or bonded.



If you are considering orthodontics for yourself or for one of your children, make an appointment with Dr. Adam Schulhof today. He is an experienced orthodontist, who specializes in Lingual braces. Not to mention he loves to give people beautiful smiles. He and his team can answer questions about every stage of the orthodontic process. From X-rays and castings all the way to retainers.
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