“Night time for a lifetime” is what we say in our office when it comes to retention. After all, your investment in a beautiful, healthy smile is one that you want to keep in good condition. When you see an orthodontist for a treatment plan, the type of retainers that you will be prescribed is often decided prior to treatment. Why? Because the initial presentation of your crooked teeth is a good predictor of how your teeth will want to move after your braces are removed.
Yes, teeth will have a tendency to return to their initial positions. Interestingly, everyone will experience shifting of their teeth as they age. Our bodies change as we grow older and the position of our teeth is no different. To help maintain straight teeth, there are a variety of retainers to choose from, including Hawley retainers, Essix retainers, fixed retainers and nightguards.
Hawley retainers are the traditional retainer that is made out of a metal wire that wraps around your front teeth with acrylic/plastic that conforms to the roof of your mouth. The plastic part often comes in fun colors and patterns. This retainer can be adjusted and can last 10 plus years when properly cared for.
Essix retainers are also very popular. They are a clear plastic retainer that resembles an Invisalign aligner. They wrap around every surface of the teeth and are easy to wear. But they have a shorter life and need to be replaced every 1-3 years depending on the wear and tear.
Fixed retainers are a thin metal bar that is glued behind your teeth. Most often they are placed on the inside of the lower six front teeth. They are great for patients who started out with very crooked teeth. Parents like them because they don’t have to remind their child to wear it. Also, a short fixed retainer behind the upper two front teeth is a great choice from someone who starts out with a large gap between the two front teeth. This retainer holds the two front teeth together and prevents the space from re-opening. An additional removable retainer is recommended over top a smaller bar. I call having both the “belt AND suspenders” plan.
Nightguards are a great choice and work double duty. Not only do they keep your teeth straight, they can help protect your teeth from grinding and alleviate TMJ pain.
As you can see, there are many choices and there is a right one for you.