Common types of retainers worn after Orthodontic Treatment and Braces

Let’s be honest…all orthodontic patients look forward to the day their braces come off or their orthodontic treatment is coming to an end! This means we are 100% complete with orthodontic treatment, right? Well, maybe…

After orthodontic treatment is complete, Dr. Horner or Dr. Barrow may recommend that you wear a retainer for a specific length of time. This retainer will hold your teeth in place while your jaw, gums, and ligaments get used to their new position.

We want to use this post to fill you in on the different types of retainers available, so that you can make an informed decision when the time comes for you and/or your child to have your braces come off and get fitted for your new retainer.

  • Bonded Retainers: These are retainers that are glued to the back (or lingual) of two or more teeth. They are considered permanent because patients can’t take them in and out on their own. These retainers have the advantage of not requiring any cooperation on the part of the patient beyond keeping them clean. Parents never have to ask their kids where these retainers are since these cannot be forgotten, misplaced, or outgrown. Bonded retainers provide the most control of any retainer type.
  • Clear (or Essix) Retainers: The clear (or Essix) retainer is a transparent removable retainer that fits over the entire arch of your teeth. Essix retainers have no metal or wires, very much like Invisalign® clear aligner trays. They can also be used to produce minor tooth movements and can be helpful in prevention of tooth wear due to tooth grinding (bruxism) at night.
  • Hawley Retainers: This is the most common type of retainer. Hawley retainers have a design that consists of wires and clasps embedded in a relatively thick plastic body that covers over the roof of the your mouth or lies along the tongue side of your lower teeth. The clasps grasp selected teeth so the retainer is anchored securely. The retaining “bow” wire arches across the front side of the your teeth and holds and maintains their alignment.