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Retainers

Three Types of Retainers
Types of orthodontic retainers.

There are three basic types of retainers available today; each works best in particular situations. The “Hawley” retainer is a thin, tongue-shaped piece of acrylic molded to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds your teeth in position. The Hawley retainer 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.

Another popular style of retainer is the clear aligner-type, which looks similar to the Invisalign® tray system. 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 they may be somewhat less durable than the Hawleys.

Finally, fixed retainers may be an option for some people, especially on the lower front teeth. As their name implies, they aren't removable by the wearer — but they aren't visible either. This system uses a wire which is bonded to the tongue side of the teeth. It may remain in place for months, or longer. This type of retainer is sometimes recommended when there's a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position.

Maintaining Your Retainer

To stay fresh and germ-free, all retainers need proper cleaning. A soft toothbrush and a few drops of dishwashing liquid or other mild liquid soap can be used to clean most removable retainers. Denture cleaners, in powder or tablet form, as well as special retainer cleaners, can also be used. 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 discarded! 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.

Hartsock Orthodontics

  • Hartsock Orthodontics - 161 College St., Suite 3, Pikeville, KY 41501 Phone: 606.432.3603

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