Retainers are custom-made orthodontics devices usually made of clear plastic or wires. Retainers hold the teeth in place after an orthodontic procedure or surgery. After completing orthodontic treatment to align the teeth, there is still a risk that the teeth may shift to their original position. Retainers hold the teeth in their new position until the surrounding periodontal fibers adapt to the new changes. It may take between four and six months for the new position of your teeth to become permanent. For the best orthodontics treatment and retainers in Hawthorne, you can count on Ganji Dental. We are experts in both permanent and removable retainers.

Types of Dental Retainers

There are two categories of retainers: permanent and removable. The dental expert will recommend the best retainer, depending on your dental condition. The retainers will hold your teeth and prevent them from shifting after they have been straightened with braces. Retainers are effective as long as you use them according to your dentist’s recommendation.

Removable Retainers

Just like their name suggests, you can remove the removable retainers when you want to eat or brush your teeth. The removable retainers are relatively easy to handle and readily available. However, the removable retainer's downside is that they are easy to lose or misplace when they are not in your mouth. If you leave the removable retainers lying around, they could easily break, mostly if a person accidentally sits or steps on them. The removable retainers may also lead to excessive production of saliva. If you fail to exercise good oral hygiene, bacteria may grow and thrive on the removable retainers.

The biggest issue with removable retainers is the possibility of a relapse. A relapse is the shifting of the teeth back to their original position. This may happen because some people may not be disciplined to wear the removable retainers as instructed by the orthodontist. When a removable retainer gets lost or is damaged, some people may not replace it soon enough. If you don’t wear the retainer as you are supposed to, it won’t be useful, and your teeth might not shift back to their original position.

You should remove and clean the retainers daily to maintain good oral health. Gentle brushing is adequate to clean the retainers. Your periodontist may also advise you to soak your retainers for some time.

There are two main types of removable retainers:

Hawley Removable Retainers

The alternative name for Hawley retainers is wire retainers. Hawley retainers are removable retainers that consist of a thin metal wire and acrylic or plastic. The acrylic or the plastic is shaped to fit the mouth’s roof or lie along the lower teeth' inner side. The metal wire lies on the top of the teeth to maintain a proper alignment.

Some of the leading benefits of Hawley retainers are:

  • You can adjust the retainers easily for a better fit when you first acquire them. You can also change the retainers later if your teeth require a slight realignment later.
  • Compared to a clear plastic retainer, a wire retainer is more durable.
  • A Hawley retainer is easy to repair in case of damage.
  • If used and cared for properly, a wire retainer may last for many years.
  • Even with a Hawley retainer, your upper and lower teeth will still touch naturally.

Some of the disadvantages of Hawley retainers are:

  • Unlike other retainers, a Hawley retainer might affect your speech.
  • A wire retainer is also more conspicuous and noticeable than other types of retainers.
  • Initially, when you begin wearing a wire retainer, it might affect your lips or cheeks.

Clear Plastic Removable Retainers

The removable clear plastic retainers are molded to fit perfectly over your aligned teeth and maintain the teeth’s position. Clear plastic retainers are also known as molded retainers. Their technical name is vacuum-formed or thermoplastic retainers. The process of making clear plastic retainers begins with creating a mold of the teeth. Then, polyurethane or a thin plastic is melted and then sucked down around the mold. The leading benefits of clear plastic retainers are:

  • The retainer is virtually invisible, and you will feel comfortable while wearing it. Because the retainers are less noticeable, many people are likely to wear them as recommended, which minimizes the likelihood of a relapse.
  • Compared to Hawley retainers, the clear plastic retainers are less bulky and more comfortable.
  • Unlike a Hawley retainer, a transparent plastic retainer isn’t likely to affect your speech.

Despite the many benefits of clear plastic retainers, they also have a downside:

  • The plastic retainer isn’t adjustable, even if you need a realignment. You would have to replace the entire retainer.
  • If the retainer cracks or breaks, you can’t repair it.
  • The clear plastic retainers may affect your speech more than the permanent retainers.
  • If you expose the plastic retainer to heat, it might warp.
  • Over time, the clear plastic retainer becomes discolored, consequently becoming more noticeable.
  • Your top and bottom teeth won’t touch naturally when you are wearing the clear plastic retainers.
  • The plastic retainers may trap and hold liquids, and this might cause dental cavities.

There are different brands of clear plastic retainers. Different brands are made from different types of plastic materials. The clear plastic retainers have continued to gain popularity, and most people prefer them to the wire retainers.

Permanent Retainers

The permanent retainers consist of a braided or solid wire curved and designed to match the newly aligned teeth' shape. The wire is bonded or cemented to the inside of the front teeth to ensure they don’t move. Orthodontists mainly use permanent retainers on the lower teeth. Permanent retainers are also known as lingual wire, fixed, or bonded retainers. You can’t remove the permanent retainers. Only a dentist or an orthodontist can remove the permanent retainers.

A dentist may recommend the permanent retainers if they feel that you are likely to have a relapse. A permanent retainer is also ideal for children since they may not follow the dentist’s instructions regarding removable retainers. The dentist may leave the permanent retainers in place indefinitely. However, a dentist may have to remove the permanent retainers in case of a build-up of plaque and tartar.

Some of the leading benefits of permanent retainers are:

  • You don’t have to comply with strict instructions regarding when and how long you should wear the retainers.
  • Unlike the Hawley retainers, the permanent retainers aren’t visible to other people.
  • A permanent retainer won’t affect your speech.
  • Because the permanent retainers aren’t removable, they can’t be lost or misplaced easily.
  • The permanent retainers can’t be damaged easily and will serve you for a long time.

Some of the disadvantages of permanent retainers are:

  • With permanent retainers, you may have a hard time maintaining your oral hygiene. For instance, it might be hard to brush and floss your teeth effectively because the retainers are non-removable. This could lead to tartar and plaque build-up, which could cause gum disease.
  • Because the permanent retainers are attached and can’t be removed, you may not like the idea of having a foreign object in your mouth at all times.
  • The metal wire might cause a tongue irritation.

You should clean your permanent retainers daily, just like your normal teeth. You could pass a dental floss beneath the retainer to remove food particles, plaque, and tartar.

Why Dental Retainers Matter

After the alignment of your teeth or even when your teeth are permanently in their new position, they are still prone to shifting. Activities like chewing, everyday wear, and growth are all factors that could make your teeth move. An orthodontist may recommend using a retainer for a while or even for the rest of your life.

If your dentist recommends a removable retainer, it’s essential to follow the dentist’s instructions and ensure that you wear the retainer as recommended. Most dentists will advise you to wear your retainer every day for a whole year after removing your braces. After that, you may only need to wear the retainer at night. Different dentists may give varying instructions regarding retainers.

After you start using retainers, your dentist may want to review you regularly to ensure that the retainer is working as it should. After reviewing your teeth, the dentist will know whether the retainer effectively keeps your teeth from moving. If the dentist realizes that the retainer isn’t effective, they may adjust them or replace them.

Your dentist may schedule a review every few months to ensure that the retainer is working well. If you lose your retainer or your retainer cracks or breaks, you should immediately see your dentist. Staying with a damaged retainer or staying for some time without a retainer may hinder you from reaping its benefits.

Caring for Your Retainers

To ensure that you get the most out of your retainers, you should know how to take care of them. Below are some of the tips for taking care of your retainers:

  • If you have permanent retainers, you should brush and floss effectively around the retainers. Just like braces, the wire on the retainer may accumulate food particles, plaque, and tartar. It is essential to practice proper oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay due to plaque accumulation. You should visit your dentist often so that they can ensure that the area around the retainers is clean and cavity-free.
  • You should ensure that you place your removable retainers in a retainer case any time that you aren’t wearing them. You should avoid wrapping the retainer with tissue paper or a napkin because it might be thrown by mistake. Even if you remove your retainer to brush or floss your teeth, you should place it in a case. Pets love retainers and may destroy them if you put them carelessly. The last thing you would want is to find your pet dog chewing your retainer.
  • It’s advisable to remove the retainer while eating or drinking if you have removable retainers unless you are drinking plain water. It is particularly important to remove your Essix retainers even when sipping a drink. You should not consume sugary drinks with your retainers on. The liquid and the sugar may remain on your teeth and make your teeth prone to decay.
  • When cleaning your retainer, you should use a soft-bristled toothbrush. The same case applies even if you have permanent retainers. Other than using a soft-bristled toothbrush, you should also use a non-abrasive toothpaste. Occasionally, you may use a retainer cleaner and soak your retainers for a deep clean. A retainer cleaner will help remove plaque and prevent the retainer from smelling.
  • You should avoid consuming hot drinks with your retainers on. You should also avoid placing the retainers in a hot place, including a hot vehicle, after removing them. The excessive heat might warp the retainer. A warped retainer might not fit properly, and this could make your teeth shift.
  • You should call your doctor immediately if you happen to lose your retainer so that you can have the retainer replaced. Failing to wear your retainers even for a few nights might cause your teeth to shift. To ensure that you maintain your teeth in their new position and maintain your smile, you should get new retainers.
  • Whenever you attend a dental appointment, you should bring your retainer with you. When you bring your retainer to the dentist, the dentist will ensure that the retainer is in good condition and fits well.

What Retainers Can’t Do

Some people have a hard time determining what retainers can and can’t do. The role of retainers is to hold your teeth in place, preventing them from shifting. Retainers do not just adjust your teeth to their new locations but your tissues as well. It may take up to one year for the tissues in your mouth to stabilize, depending on the severity of your orthodontic problem. Despite the effectiveness of retainers in holding the teeth in place, there are several things that retainers can’t do:

  • Retainers aren’t used to straighten crooked teeth — If you have crooked teeth, your dentist will probably recommend dental braces. The retainers will come in handy after you remove braces to maintain the results. Without braces, you can’t straighten your teeth with retainers.
  • A retainer alone can’t fix an overbite; again, you will require braces to correct an overbite. However, after an overbite correction, retainers will ensure that your teeth will not go back to their original position.
  • Retainers can’t be used on their own to close small gaps between your teeth — You will need braces for this. If you solely remain on retainers to address the gaps between your teeth, you may close a gap in one area only to create another gap in a different area.

Common Issues With Retainers

What are some of the common issues that you might experience after wearing retainers, and how should you address them?

When the Retainers Hurt or Feel Too Tight

If your retainers hurt or feel too tight, you should consider whether you are wearing them as your dentist instructed. If a retainer hurts or feels too tight, you are probably not wearing it as prescribed. It’s normal for the retainer to hurt or feel tight in the first few days. However, when you get used to the retainer, it shouldn’t hurt as long as you are wearing it right.

You might feel tempted to stop wearing the retainer if it feels tight. However, if you give up on the retainer, your beautiful smile might not last for long because your teeth are likely to move. Most people often go back to their orthodontist to correct a smile that had been corrected in childhood but wasn’t maintained. If you feel that the retainer is too uncomfortable, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can adjust your current retainer or give you a replacement.

If you have had a retainer for a while, but it starts to feel tight, the chances are that you haven’t been wearing your retainer frequently enough. Staying for a day or two without wearing your retainer could make your teeth shift slightly. If your teeth shift even for a bit, your retainers will feel tight when you wear them.

Even if it is normal for a retainer to hurt or feel uncomfortable for the first few days, the discomfort shouldn’t last. After 4 to 5 days, your retainer should not cause any pain or discomfort. If the pain extends beyond five, you should contact your dentist immediately.

When Retainers Turn White

It’s important to know what is happening if your retainer starts to turn white. Just like your teeth, the retainer often accumulates plaque and tartar around it. If you notice white spots on your retainers, they are probably from the calcium deposits from your saliva. This build-up is a sign that the retainers aren’t cleaned properly.

To prevent the formation of white spots on your retainers, you should clean them properly. If you have removable retainers, you should clean them every time you take them from your mouth. If you don’t clean the retainers regularly, debris will accumulate and harden them, making them difficult to remove. You can use soap and water to clean the retainers or a soft-bristled brush. Even if the white spots on the retainers are persistent, you shouldn’t use an abrasive to clean your retainers. An abrasive will damage the retainer by scratching its finishing.

To keep your retainer as clean as possible, you should consider soaking the retainer in a retainer cleaner. You may repeat this procedure every day. When you remove your retainer, you should soak it in an anti-bacterial cleaner. Rinse the retainer while lukewarm water before you return it to your mouth.

When Retainers Produce a Foul Smell

Even if you don’t notice white spots or dirt on your retainer, you may notice a foul smell coming from it. Most patients often ask their dentists why their retainers smell so bad. The accumulation of plaque on the retainer is the cause of a foul smell. To eliminate the foul smell, you must brush and floss your teeth regularly if you have permanent retainers. It is also important to soak your retainers in a cleaning solution to eliminate the plaque that might have build-up on them.

The Retainer Hurts When Removing It

If you are new to wearing retainers, you may realize that the retainers hurt when you remove them or even when wearing them. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable when removing the retainer in the first few weeks. To prevent this discomfort, you should ensure that you remove the retainer in the right manner as your dentist instructed.

The retainers may feel annoying in the first several days of wearing them. The retainers may not just be uncomfortable, but you may also notice that your mouth produces too much saliva. Excessive saliva production may affect your speech in the beginning. However, in a day or two, your mouth will get used to the retainer, and the excess saliva will no longer be an issue. You may even practice talking in front of a mirror to enhance the adjustment process.

The Cost of Retainers

The cost of retainers varies depending on the type of retainer your orthodontist recommends. Usually, your dentist will include the retainer's price in the overall cost of your orthodontic treatment. However, you will incur an additional charge if you need to replace your retainer. Typically, the cost of Hawley retainers may range between $300 and $600. The cost of Essix retainers commonly ranges between $200 and $500. The cost of bonded or permanent retainers may range between $250 and $500.

Given the high cost of retainers, most people often wonder whether retainers are worth it. If you think about how effective retainers are in holding your teeth in place and enhancing your smile, you will realize that it is worth the cost. If your dental insurance covers orthodontic treatment, it will probably cover retainers as well.

Find an Experienced Dentist Near Me

Orthodontic treatment is a significant investment for everyone. Retainers help to preserve this investment by preventing your teeth from shifting after orthodontic treatment. For the best retainers in Hawthorne, Ganji Dental can assist. Contact us at 310-643-8045 and speak to one of our dentists.