Retainers are the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to orthodontic treatment. They usually signal the last leg of the treatment, and mean your gorgeous new smile is just around the corner.

Retainers are applied to hold or “retain” your teeth in their corrected positions, allowing your teeth positions to solidify, and they can either be fixed or removable depending on what your orthodontist feels is most appropriate for your case. Wearing retainers as directed by your orthodontist is crucial to maintaining your smile and preventing any treatment regression. Here, we provide you with some more information on retainers in general, including the types and purposes of the retainers we prescribe during orthodontic treatment.

Contact us today for a free consultation with an orthodontist to learn more about braces and retainers for you or your child.

Types of Retainers

Retainers are either fixed or removable. The type of retainer we will use for your treatment will depend on the circumstances of your case, and can be discussed between you and your orthodontist.

Hawley Retainers | St. Louis OrthodontistHawley Retainer
Clear Fixed Retainers | Orthodontist in St. LouisClear VFR Retainer

Fixed Retainers

Also referred to as bonded, or permanent, fixed retainers are small wires that are bonded on the back of your teeth. The advantages of permanent retainers are that there is relatively little adjustment to them in terms of eating or speaking, and you do not have to worry about remembering to put them back in your mouth. Fixed retainers are a bit trickier when it comes oral hygiene. However, post-braces, they should be a breeze for most patients to clean around.

Removable Retainers

Removable retainers come in two types – clear or Hawley retainers. Clear retainers are made from a thin, plastic material and are molded to the shape of your teeth. The downside to clear retainers is that they can wear out faster due to the nature of their material, but the upside is that they are more aesthetically pleasing.

Hawley retainers are the traditional type that people tend to think of when retainers come to mind. These retainers are made up of hard acrylic and orthodontic wires. Though they are initially a bit cumbersome to get used to in terms of speech, Hawley retainers are a great choice for retention because of their durability.

Some key points to remember regarding your removable retainers:

  • Wearing your retainers fulltime as directed by your orthodontist keeps your treatment on schedule and prevents any regression.
  • Removing retainers when eating is important so food does not get wedged in between the retainer and your teeth, which can feel gross at best and break retainers at worst.
  • Always remember to put your retainers in their case when you are not wearing them. This will help prevent losing or breaking them.
  • Since retainers are breakable, it is important to treat them with care. If your retainers get damaged or lost, call our office as soon as possible so we can resolve the issue. It is also important that you do not try to fix them yourself.
  • Clean your retainers at least once daily. You can use denture cleaners for your retainers, but brushing them gently and thoroughly with regular toothpaste and your toothbrush is ideal. Brushing your retainers will eliminate odors related to plaque and bacteria.
  • Initially, your speech may be affected by your retainers, but with a little practice, patience, and perseverance, you should be able to overcome this.
  • Remove retainers when swimming.
  • Keep your retainers away from hot water, hot car dashboards, pockets, washing machines, and napkins.
  • Orthodontics can be expensive and require time for successful treatment. The replacement of retainers is expensive and works against your treatment time plan. However, with proper care, your retainers will last throughout their intended lifespan.

Learn More About Retainers in Orthodontic Treatment

If you have questions specifically regarding retainers, or are curious about orthodontic treatment and wondering if it might work for you, please give us a call. Our orthodontists can provide a free consultation to determine if orthodontic treatment is right for you and to answer any questions you may have. St. Louis Orthodontic Group serves the greater St. Louis area and has 3 convenient locations to choose from. Contact us at our Chesterfield, Fenton, or O’Fallon office today!