Retainers are essential in almost all cases to help prevent the teeth moving once the braces are removed.

Retainers are important........

Almost every patient who has had orthodontic treatment needs to wear retainers. If you do not wear these retainers then your teeth will go crooked again, and the hard work in wearing the braces will be lost. You should only go ahead with orthodontic brace treatment if you are also happy to wear retainers to keep the result at the end.

Why do I need to wear retainers?

There are two reasons for wearing retainers:

  • Teeth tend to want to move back towards their original positions. This is called relapse.
  • As we get older our teeth may start to move unpredictably, often showing some crossing over and increased in crowding.

By wearing retainers long-term we can reduce these age changes in the position of the teeth. The longer you wear retainers, the longer you can keep your teeth straight.

What are retainers?

Retainers are fitted at the end of orthodontic treatment after the braces are removed. They can be either removable or fixed onto the teeth. There are different types of retainers. The choice of retainer is affected by a number of different factors and your orthodontist will explain which retainer is best for you. Sometimes you will be recommended to wear more than one type of retainer to reduce the chances of the teeth relapsing.

Types of retainers

There are lots of different types of retainers. The commonest types of retainers used in the UK are the vacuum-formed retainer, the bonded retainer and the Hawley retainer.

Vacuum-formed retainer
Vacuum formed retainer on top teeth 1 (Original size) This is a clear retainer that is usually worn on a part-time basis. You must never eat or drink with the retainer in place. Initially it grips your teeth firmly, but most patients adapt very well to this type of retainer.
Bonded retainer
Bonded retainer stuck behind lower front teeth 1 (Original size) This is a fixed type of retainer. This is stuck onto the teeth – usually hidden on the inside of the teeth, so it is not visible. The advantage is that you don’t need to remember to wear this retainer (as it stuck in full-time). However, you must spend extra time cleaning around it and if it ever gets loose, you should seek advice.
Hawley retainer
Hawley retainers on top and bottom teeth (Original size) This is a strong retainer, which is removable and has a plastic bit that fits either behind your lower teeth or in your palate behind the upper teeth. There is also usually a thin metal wire running across your front teeth to keep them in position. This retainer may affect your speech slightly when you first use it, but this quickly improves with time.

Instructions for retainers

Each type of retainer has its own set of instructions and your orthodontist will give you the instructions for your particular retainer. It is really important you follow these instructions. The instructions will help to reduce the chances of your teeth relapsing, and will also help to make sure that the retainers do not cause any damage to your teeth and gums.

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