Before committing to orthodontic treatment, it is important to understand that you are also committing to wearing retainers to hold the final result. As we age, the position or our lips, cheeks, tongue and soft tissues can change. The soft tissues determine the position of our teeth, which therefore also changes with time. The fibers in our gums also have a tendency to pull our teeth back to a crowded position. Once orthodontic treatment is complete, the retention phase is important to hold your result. Retainers should be worn as instructed by your orthodontist. Otherwise, another round of orthodontic treatment could be necessary.

Retainer types

There are two types of orthodontic retainers: fixed and removable. Removable retainers can be taken off to eat or brush your teeth. Fixed retainers are permanently glued to your teeth and should only be removed by your orthodontist. Your orthodontist will discuss the pros and cons of the retainers and decide which is best for you.

Hawley retainers

Hawley retainers consist of a plastic base that conforms to the shape of your mouth. This is connected to a wire that wraps around your teeth, keeping them in place.

Image description: Hawley retainer
Image description: Essix retainer

Essix retainers

Essix retainers are made of clear plastic. Some patients prefer Essix retainers because most people cannot tell you’re wearing one, but they don’t have the life span of Hawley retainers.

Bonded retainers

Often called fixed or permanent retainers, this option consists of a customized wire that is bonded to the back of your teeth with a composite material. It should remain on your teeth for many years and should only be removed by an orthodontist.

Image description: Bonded retainer