Retainer Types: Bonded, Hawley and Clear Retainers

After two years of wearing braces, the day your Orthodontist takes them off is cause for celebration! You’ve done hard yards, your teeth are straight, and your smile is awesome. This milestone is an outstanding achievement, but you’re not quite finished yet. 

If you didn’t complete the final step, you would waste all that effort. Your teeth are now in place, but you need to ensure they stay there. To keep your teeth straight, you will need to wear a retainer for some time.

What Does a Retainer Do For My Teeth?

You might think your teeth are immovable, that they grow in your gums and stay in the same place for the duration. But they don’t. 

Although you can’t see it occurring, your teeth are always on the move. Even after you’ve worn braces, your teeth will shift slightly all through your life.

A few factors cause this shifting:

  • As you get older, the shape of your jaw changes.
  • Pressure is exerted on your teeth by talking and eating.
  • After Orthodontic work, your teeth tend to shift back to their original wrong position without a retainer.
  • If you need an extraction, the space causes other teeth to shift.
  • Other dental health problems like grinding and gum disease.

What Are the Main Types of Retainers?

The two basic types of retainers are permanent and removable. Your practitioner at The Orthodontic Place can help you decide which type will be best for you, based on any dental health conditions you may have and why braces were necessary. You might need one type of retainer for top teeth and another if you had braces on your bottom teeth.

Removable Retainers

Relapse or shifting teeth is the primary and common problem with removable retainers. The problem isn’t always with the retainer itself but the fact that people lose them, fail to put them back on and don’t wear them as often as is recommended.

The Fixed or Bonded Retainer

Permanent, fixed or bonded retainers are thin wire curved that fits the shape of your now-straighter teeth. Your teeth cannot move since the wire is bonded or glued to the inside of your teeth. 

Bonded retainers are more often used on the lower teeth and are also known as lingual wire or bonded retainers. Your Orthodontist is the only one who should remove this type of retainer.

The Hawley Retainer

Hawley retainers, also called wire retainers, are removable and made from acrylic shaped to the inside of your mouth to fit your teeth perfectly. Metal wires hold your teeth in place, preventing a relapse. 

The advantages of the Hawley type of retainer include:

  • They’re adjustable 
  • They’re a bit more durable than clear plastic retainers
  • They can be repaired
  • Upper and lower teeth close naturally
  • The acrylic part comes in so many colours

However, Hawley retainers may affect your speech, and the wire might initially irritate cheek or lips, and they’re more noticeable.

The Clear Plastic Retainer

These clear retainers (also called moulded, thermoplastic or vacuum-formed retainers) are removable and shaped to fit the new position of your teeth. Making these retainers involves taking a digital scan of your newly straightened teeth.  Clear plastic retainers have the following advantages:

  • You’re more likely to wear it since it is almost invisible, which reduces the likelihood of a relapse.
  • Many find them more comfortable than Hawley retainers.
  • Clear retainers are less likely than Hawleys to affect your speech.

However, if you need a realignment, these can’t be adjusted or repaired; they can warp if exposed to heat, stain, trap liquids, and top and bottom teeth don’t touch naturally.  

For more information on the types of retainers you can have after your braces are removed, contact The Orthodontic Place on Office: 08 8362 6000, Mobile: 0411 748 146, email [email protected], or drop us a line on the website form.