At the end of orthodontic treatment, retainers must be worn otherwise you run the risk of undoing all of the hard work in straightening your teeth. This is called relapse. We advise a combination approach of a fixed wire retainer placed behind the front teeth as well using a removable retainer at night.Fixed Retainer
In most cases, we will place the fixed wire retainer immediately after the brace has been removed so that the risk of relapse is minimal. The great advantage of a fixed wire retainer is that it is bonded on to the teeth so that you do not have to worry about removing and wearing it. The wire itself is very low profile and hence non bulky. The glue is very smooth and overall, the retainer is extremely comfortable.
Fixed retainers do require greater levels of maintenance and need careful cleaning on a daily basis. There is also the risk that the glue debonds or the wire fractures. If this happens, you must seek immediate advice. This is why we advise the use of a night time retainer as a safety net as well as a back up should anything happen to the fixed retainer.
Example of a fixed wire retainer placed on the lower front teeth
There are many types of removable retainer. We normally recommend a vacuum formed retainer which is commonly known as an Essix retainer. These are made from clear plastic; either from polyethylene co-polymers or polypropylene polymers. They are latex and BPA free.
Another common type of removable retainer is the Hawley Retainer. This is a robust retainer that has an acrylic base which sits behind the lower teeth or on the palate of the upper teeth and metal wire that runs across the front 6 teeth. It is held in by cribs which usually sit across the canine and molar teeth.
Should you lose or break your retainer, it is essential that another is made as quickly as possible
Removable clear aligner
How long are retainers worn for?
Retention is for LIFE. If you are not willing to undergo a life time of retention, then you should not start orthodontic treatment. Immediately after orthodontic treatment, we advise the use of a fixed wire retainer as the definitive retainer coupled with the removable retainer at night for 12 months. The removable retainer can then be used 2 to 3 times per week.Will retainers last a life time?
No. Due to natural wear and tear, retainers will need to be replaced over the years. This will depend on a number of factors such as your bite, cleaning habits, diet and whether you grind your teeth at night for example. Most retainers will need to be replaced every 2 to 3 years.How to keep retainers clean
Fixed retainers should be brushed as normal using your manual or electric toothbrush. Inter dental brushes such as Te Pe or Piksters should also be used in between the teeth as regular floss will not pass through beyond the wire.
Waterpik and Phillips Airfloss can also be useful to clean between the retainer.
Removable retainers should be cleaned with an old tooth brush and toothpaste on a daily basis. Avoid using bleach or mouthwashes as this can lead to the retainer becoming cloudy and discoloured. The use of effervescent tablets such as Retainer Brite can also be useful with occasional use.