Orthodontic retainers are appliances that are designed to maintain the position of the teeth after orthodontic treatment is complete. They are typically used after braces, Invisalign or any other orthodontic appliance has been removed to keep the teeth in their new positions and prevent them from shifting back to their original positions.
Retainers are necessary because after orthodontic treatment, the ligaments and bone tissue that support the teeth need time to adapt to the new position of the teeth. Without retainers, the teeth may gradually shift back to their original positions, which can lead to a relapse of the orthodontic problem.
In addition to this, teeth are susceptible to movement throughout life, whether or not you have had orthodontic treatment. For someone with crooked teeth, this movements may not be noticeable. For someone who has completed a course of orthodontic treatment, and who has perfectly straight teeth, small amounts of movement later on in life will be more noticeable. For this reason, we advise permanent retention for all of our patients.
There are two main types of orthodontic retainers: removable and fixed.
Removable retainers (also known as vacuum formed retainers or Essix retainers) are made of clear plastic and are custom-made to fit the patient’s teeth. They are designed to be worn for a specified period of time each day, typically at night while sleeping. Removable retainers are easy to clean and maintain and are usually very comfortable.
Fixed retainers (also known as bonded retainers or permanent retainers) are permanently attached to the back of the teeth using a composite bonding technique. They are made of a thin wire that is custom made in a laboratory and bonded to the inside of the front 4 or front 6 teeth. Fixed retainers are designed to remain in place permanently, although they may need repairing or replacing every few years.
After the first week or two, you will not be conscious of the fact you are wearing a fixed retainer. They are smooth, low profile and easy to get on with. Unfortunately flossing is not possible between the teeth to which the bonded retainer is attached, so interdental brushed are recommended to clean between those teeth.
At Neyo, we aim to provide all our orthodontic patients with both fixed and removable retainers after every course of treatment. In our experience, this belt and braces approach is the safest long-term option to minimse movement of teeth in the future.