Retainers are typically used after braces to maintain the positioning of the teeth. Teeth have ligaments that connect them to the surrounding gums and bone. These ligaments tend to pull teeth back to their original positions, potentially creating crowding, bite and spacing issues if retainers are not used after braces—two common types of retainers that are used, which are fixed retainers and removable retainers. Read below to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Removable retainers are retainers that are designed to put in and take out and are typically recommended to be worn as much as possible for the first few months after the braces are removed (aside from eating, drinking and brushing) and then only at night after a predetermined time, which your dentist/orthodontist will recommend. Removable retainers are typically thin, clear plastic trays covering all the teeth and are fabricated based on impressions taken after the braces are removed.
– Able to take out and put back in for eating, drinking, brushing and flossing
– Easier to clean teeth because the retainer can be removed
– Only works when appropriately worn, requires patient compliance
– Can cause an increased risk for staining and cavities if adequate brushing is not completed before putting the trays in
Fixed retainers are metal wires that are bonded to the backside of the upper and lower teeth to hold them in position. The fixed retainer is permanent and cannot be taken out and put back in. Fixed retainers are recommended to stay in for life to ensure lifetime retention of teeth.
– No need to worry about taking out and putting back in a retainer, cleaning, storing or losing a removable retainer
– Retention is 24/7 as the retainers are bonded directly to the teeth and always there
– Fixed retainers are difficult to clean and therefore make the teeth they are bonded to difficult to clean as well
– Extra tools need to be used at home to floss, such as floss threaders or super floss
– Bondings can chip and break over time and require fixing
If you have any questions about fixed retainers vs. removable retainers or are interested in which type will work best for you, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.