What Is Retention
What is retention? After your teeth are straightened and you’ve achieved that beautiful smile, you will want to keep it! The retention phase is essential because teeth can possibly move without retainers. Just like our body gets out of shape when we quit exercising, our straight teeth need retention too.
Hawley retainers are a thin, tongue-shaped piece of acrylic molded to fit your mouth. They have a wire that holds your teeth in position. It is simple, durable and easily removed. It’s even possible to personalize it by choosing different colors and designs for the plastic arch. It can also be adjusted to correct minor tooth movements.
Our clear plastic retainer is called a Tru-Tain retainer. These retainers are custom-made of thin, transparent plastic which is designed to fit precisely over your teeth. Their main advantage is that they’re invisible, with no wire to show. These retainers are also easy to remove, but may be somewhat less durable than Hawleys.
Permanent retainers are fixed and bonded to the teeth (see image). Usually, they are bonded to the lower front teeth, but if conditions are right, they can also be bonded to the upper front teeth. As their name implies, they aren’t removable. This type of retainer is recommended when there’s a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position.
An example of a Simister bonded retainer (actual patient picture):
Maintaining — and Retaining — Your Retainer
To stay fresh and germ-free, all retainers need proper cleaning. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to gently brush a Hawley-type retainer and Tru-Tain retainers. can be brushed gently with a regular toothbrush. Denture cleaners, in powder or tablet form, can be used to clean most removable retainers. Fixed retainers are cleaned by brushing and flossing; a floss threader or interproximal brush can also be a helpful cleaning tool when needed.
Finally, remember to always carry — and use — a retainer case. You’d be surprised how many retainers end up folded in a napkin and accidentally thrown away! Also, don’t expose your retainer to excess heat by washing it in very hot water or leaving it on a heater: That can cause the retainer to warp and make it unusable.
With proper care and conscientious use, a retainer can help you transition from braces to a permanent, healthy smile.