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Different Types of Retainers: Top Tips on Wear and Care

By Connolly Orthodontics

Congratulations! Your braces are off, and you’re ready to flash that gorgeous new smile to everyone! You deserve it for months of dedication and hard work. Nothing more to do, right? Well, not quite. There is one final, important step you must take to keep that beautiful new smile — wear your retainers. There are several essential things you need to know and remember about your retainers. 

At Connolly Orthodontics, we know how hard you’ve worked to get the smile you’ve always wanted. We want you to continue that success, so we’re offering important instructions, tips, and suggestions to get the best out of your retainers. Proper care will keep your retainers around for years, but if you ever have a problem with your retainers, Connolly Orthodontics will be here to help.

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What Are the Types of Retainers and How Do Retainers Work?

Once your braces or clear aligners are done for good (YAY!), we’ll fit you for your new retainers. There are three main types of retainers. We prefer to use the two most popular types of retainers, Hawley and clear or Essix retainers. 

How do Hawley Retainers Work

Hawley retainers are probably the most well-known retainers. An acrylic base is custom-molded to your mouth, and wires wrap around your teeth to hold them in place. Hawley retainers are easy to use and keep clean and are a tried-and-true method of keeping your teeth in place. 

Clear Retainers or Essix Retainers

Patients using Invisalign clear aligners often prefer a clear retainer, such as Invisalign’s Vivera retainers. Like the Hawley retainers, clear retainers are custom-designed to fit the patient’s mouth exactly. Unlike the Hawley retainers, these fit over all of your teeth, keeping them all in their proper positions. Clear aligners are nearly invisible and easily removable. 

Permanent Retainers or Lingual Retainers

Permanent retainers, also called lingual retainers, are not removable. A wire is bonded to the back of the front teeth to hold them in place. The big advantage is that you don’t have to worry about wearing your retainer for at least 22 hours a day. Permanent retainers also have the advantage of being nearly invisible because they go on the back of the teeth. The downside is that it can be more difficult to floss and keep tartar from building up around it. 

Tips on Wearing Your Retainers

Your retainers should be worn as soon as you leave the office. It is extremely important to wear your retainers at least 22 hours a day in the first several months. That’s because your teeth are still used to moving. The only way to keep your teeth in place is to wear your retainers.

Here are the best tips for wearing your retainers:

  • Wear them at least 22 hours a day
  • Only remove your clear retainers to brush, floss, eat, or drink colored liquids. (You can keep them in while drinking plain water, but don’t eat pizza or ice cream with your retainers in).
  • Remove your retainers with two hands by popping off both sides simultaneously. This reduces the chance of bending or damaging your retainers.
  • Brush your teeth and rinse your retainers before returning them to your mouth.
  • You may need to practice talking in your retainers at first, as you may have a slight slur. This will pass as you get used to having your retainers.
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Tips on Care for Your Retainers

Caring for your retainers is important because they are meant to last you for years. Your retainers should be cleaned regularly and stored each time they are removed. Over time, you’ll be required to wear your retainers for fewer hours in the day. 

Here are some tips on how to care for your retainers and keep them around for years.

  • Clean your retainers daily with a soft-bristled brush. Do not use toothpaste, particularly on clear retainers, as the abrasive material can scratch the acrylic. Retainer cleanser tablets, clear liquid soap, or baking soda dissolved in water will do the trick.
  • Keep your retainers in a storage container when they’re out of your mouth. This will keep them from getting lost or damaged.
  • Never wrap them in a napkin that can be mistakenly thrown away. Carry a storage container with you if you’re going out to eat. 
  • Keep your retainer away from small children and pets. They both look to them as toys, and they can do a lot of damage to your retainers. 
  • Keep your retainers away from heat. Hot water, hot cars, washing machines, or dishwashers can damage your retainers.
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Cost of Retainers

The good news is your retainers are included in the price of your treatment! However, you will have to pay for replacements if you lose or damage them. 

Your retainers need to be replaced immediately if they’re lost. Going without your retainers gives your teeth a chance to move out of place. When you’re out of braces or Invisalign, your teeth will try to move faster. That’s why it’s important to call Connolly Orthodontics, your Matthews Orthodontist, right away if you lose or damage your retainers. 

On average, the cost to replace a retainer can range from $150-$600, depending on the type of retainer.

Getting Retainers from Orthodontist Matthews and Ballantyne, NC

Connolly Orthodontics is here to help if your braces get lost or damaged. Contact us immediately with any issues because the longer you go without your retainers, the better your chances of your teeth moving out of place. We certainly don’t want that! We’ll see you for occasional checkups, and you’ll need to bring your retainers with you when you visit our Ballantyne, NC, or Matthews, NC, office. We can make any necessary adjustments to ensure your retainers keep a comfortable fit in your mouth. 

If you want to know more about our retainers, or if you’re looking to get treatment with braces or Invisalign, contact us or use our virtual consult tool to get started with us! Your initial consultation is free and without obligation. Connolly Orthodontics is here for you!

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