Dental retainers are devices advised for use by an orthodontist. They are very essential part of dental care, especially after dental braces are removed. Once the braces are removed, the teeth get aligned and the bite is corrected, but the teeth are not fixed until the bones, muscles and gums have adapted to the change. Most orthodontists recommend the use of retainers until the eruption of the wisdom teeth is complete, as this eruption could cause the teeth to crowd in the mouth. Initially, you might be advised to use retainers all the time, but after some time, you need only use them at night. Some types of dental retainers are:
1. Hawley Retainers
Hawley retainers are traditional retainers made of wire with an acrylic body. The wire goes around the teeth and supports them. Hawley retainers are used after the removal of braces as they keep the teeth in their new position. They need to be worn all the time for six months and then at night. They can be monitored and fine-tuned by the orthodontist.
2. Essix Retainers
Essix retainers are made from acrylic and are clear and invisible devices that fit over the upper or the lower teeth. Although Essix retainers perform the same function as Hawley retainers, they are used for less severe cases. Essix retainers also need to be used full time initially and subsequently at night.
3. Bonded Retainers
Fixed or bonded retainers are cemented to the back of your teeth and are used in severe cases. They might be there permanently for the rest of your life, or they might be semi-permanent and can be removed after a certain period of time when the orthodontist is sure that the teeth will maintain their position.
4. Positioning Retainers
Positioning retainers are made of rubber and used when the teeth need to be adjusted further after the braces are removed. Your orthodontist will make adjustments to these retainers as and when required and will advise you on how and when to use them.
5. Tongue-Cage Retainers
If you have a habit of thrusting your tongue against your teeth, your orthodontist might advise the use of tongue-cage retainers that are also known as crib retainers. You might also have the habit of pushing your tongue through an opening between your teeth. These retainers are required as the thrusting action of your tongue can, over a period of time, push your front teeth forward and cause speech problems. These retainers are attached to the roof of your mouth and have bars hanging down that prevent your tongue from pushing against your teeth. Once this habit has been overcome, you may stop using these retainers.
6. Retainers for Temporomandibular Disorder
If you’re habituated to grinding your teeth in your sleep, you can cause your teeth to get misaligned or worn out. Your orthodontist might advise you to use a retainer for this habit, which is also known as Temporomandibular disorder. The use of this retainer will help you stop grinding your teeth in your sleep.
Not all retainers are used to perfect the alignment of your teeth. However, if your orthodontist advises you to use any of the retainers listed above, it’s best to use them as instructed in order to maintain your dental health and the beauty of your smile.