Retention After Braces
After completing your wear of braces, your involvement in orthodontics is not yet finished. You will need to wear some form of retainer to maintain the alignment of your teeth.
There are two forms of removable retainers you may be prescribed after your braces: an essix retainer or a Hawley retainer. The essix retainer is a removable plastic retainer molded to fit your teeth securely. The patient will wear their essix retainer continuously for the first year out of treatment. If the patient has been consistent in wearing their essix retainer, then after a year, they will switch to nighttime wear. Also after a year of treatment, we recommend our patients with removable essix retainers to get Vivera retainers. Vivera retainers are made by Invisalign, so they are precision cut to the patient's gumline and made of a more durable plastic. The Vivera retainers come in 4 sets, and are intended to last a lifetime. The essix retainer is our typical prescription after braces for the upper arch of teeth. Occasionally, we may prescribe a Hawley retainer. The Hawley retainer has an acrylic base and a metal arch securing the upper teeth. Hawley retainers are typically prescribed in younger patients to maintain space or combat teeth shift. To clean both types of removable retainers, use lukewarm water and a safe cleaner. Safe cleaners include over the counter retainer cleaners, diluted white vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. Denture cleaners and toothpaste are not safe cleaners, as their potentially abrasive chemicals may damage the retainer. Clean your retainer daily to avoid gum disease, bad breath, and an off-putting retainer smell.
Fixed Wire Retainers
Fixed wire retainers are permanent retainers. Typically, the fixed wire retainer is bonded on the lower arch from canine to canine, or bonded on the upper two front teeth. The fixed wire retainer is advantageous because it cannot be lost or forgotten, since is it fixed in place in the patient's mouth, and it ensures that the teeth don't shift with the attached wire.