You must know before You Get a Retainer



What is a retainer?

A retainer is a device worn during orthodontic surgery to conceal the treatment’s effects. Retainers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they both have the same purpose: to “retain” the advantages of therapy to keep teeth from slipping out of balance.

Since it holds your smile in place and your teeth intact, a retainer is deemed one of the most essential aspects of your recovery. Whatever retainer medication your orthodontist suggests, make sure you obey the guidelines carefully to secure the investment you’ve created in your smile by orthodontic treatment!

Why need a retainer?

Chewing, growth, and daily wear will cause relapse even after your teeth are permanently in their new place. As a result, your orthodontist may advise that you wear a retainer for the rest of your life.

If your retainer is removable, it’s important that you follow your orthodontist’s instructions otherwise you risk losing any or more of the advantages of your braces. According to one report, the most general orders when braces are removed are to wear a retainer 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a year.

The retainer is then normally recommended to be used every night for the rest of the life. Since instructions differ, it’s best to discuss this with your orthodontist.

Your orthodontist would like to inspect your teeth after you’ve been using your retainer to make sure it’s stopping them from shifting. If necessary, they can alter or repair the retainer or fabricate a new one. Following the removal of the braces, you would typically have checkups every 1, 3, 6, 11, and 24 months.

If you remove your retainer or it cracks or falls, makes an appointment with your orthodontist right away. That way, it can be replaced until the teeth start to fall out again.

What is the Aim of Wearing a Retainer?

There are a few explanations why you would need a retainer. The most popular explanation is to aid in the retention of your teeth in their new places after braces have been worn. Since your teeth change as your body ages, it’s important to keep your retainer in place. The retainer aids in the management of this normal changing.

Your orthodontist (a special surgeon who can straighten teeth to fix jaw problems) will prepare you with a retainer and advise you how long and where to wear it until your braces are off. For eg, you would have to wear it every day for three months before switching to just wearing it at night.

Some children will only choose to wear a retainer at night at first, but they may continue to wear it for more than a year. The retainer will hold the teeth in place when you sleep, and you won’t even feel it!

Other children can need retainers to cover a gap between their teeth or to shift a single tooth. Braces are not needed in these situations since retainers would suffice. Retainers are sometimes worn for many years to close a distance and also to maintain the gap closed while keeping the teeth in position.

Certain teeth can feel pain and even be sore for the first few days when you wear a retainer for some occasion. Don’t worry if you have this experience; it’s perfectly natural.

In addition to moving teeth, retainers may assist with a variety of other issues in the mouth. They are also used to aid in the treatment of medical conditions. You might, for example, get a tongue thrust (a condition where your tongue sneaks through your teeth when you talk). Some retainers, referred to as a crib or tongue cage retainers, are made up of thin metal bars that hang from the roof of the mouth.

When you talk, these retainers prevent the tongue from sliding forward in between your teeth. Your tongue has been conditioned to travel to the top of your mouth rather than through your teeth. The amount of time a child wears a tongue cage depends on the child.

Retainers may also be used to aid patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD). This condition is normally caused by a bite issue named malocclusion (say: mal-uh-KLOO-zhun) or bruxism (say: BRUK-sich-zum), which is the grinding of the teeth when you sleep.

Grinding your teeth strains the muscles and joints in your mouth and jaws, which may result in gum discomfort and headaches. Retainers will protect you from grinding your teeth by stopping your mouth from closing entirely at night.

Read More: Permanent Retainers: Advantage, Disadvantage, cost, and more

Types of Retainers

types of retainer

Removable retainers 

A vacuum form retainer (VFR) is a clear horseshoe-shaped piece of material that fits over the teeth perfectly. VFR retainers have the advantages of being simple and attractive (great for selfies!), as well as being comfortable and not as heavy as most retainers. Any patients who grit their teeth may have problems with VFRs and they may get worn down over time.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Removable retainers have the following advantages:

  • They can be readily replaced anytime you wish to feed, wash or floss your teeth;
  • They are reasonably simple and convenient to get.

Removable retainers have the following advantages:

  • They can be easily missed or lost while not in operation, particularly if not stored in a case.
  • If they are left sitting about, they may easily be destroyed.
  • They may trigger an excessive amount of saliva to be produced.
  • Bacteria can thrive and develop on these surfaces.

The most significant disadvantage to removable retainers is the high rate of relapse. This is due to the fact that people can misplace their retainer and fail to repair it, or they may fail to wear their retainer as often as prescribed. When you don’t wear it, it won’t fit properly, and the teeth will try to revert to their original location.

Removable retainers on all styles can be taken out and gently brushed on a regular basis. Soaking it might also be recommended by the orthodontist. Find out all on how to keep your retainer clean.

Hawley retainers

A Hawley retainer is a kind of conventional retainer that consists of a plastic piece that fits over the roof or floor of your mouth and is connected to a wire that fits over the front of your teeth. Hawley retainers are advantageous because they are long-lasting and enable us to make further changes.

If a tooth or two shifts subtly, for example, we will occasionally change the wire to re-straighten the teeth. For certain other kinds of retainers, you won’t be able to do that. Nonetheless, Hawley retainers are less attractive than VFRs, and certain patients feel that speaking and chewing are more troublesome while they are worn.

The below are some of the benefits of the Hawley retainer:

  • If you require a perfect match when you first have the retainer or if your teeth need minor realignment later, the retainer will be changed.
  • It’s a little more flexible than a transparent plastic retainer because it would be able to be repaired if it breaks.
  • If correctly used and cared for, it will last a long time.
  • This form of retainer allows the upper and lower teeth to come into natural contact.

Its drawbacks :

  • It has a greater impact on your voice than other types of retainers;
  • It is more visible than other types of retainers; and
  • The wire can irritate your lip or cheeks at first.

The price ranges between $150 and $340 on average.

Clear plastic retainers

They are removable retainers that have been custom-molded to accommodate your teeth in their current place. Molded retainers are another name for them. (Thermoplastic or vacuum-formed retainers are the technical terms for them.)

A mold of the teeth is used to produce this kind of retainer. The mold is then encased in a thin layer of plastic or polyurethane that is melted and sucked down around it.

The below are some of the benefits of using a transparent plastic retainer:

  • When it’s almost undetectable, you’re more inclined to put it on. It’s less probable that you’ll relapse.
  • It’s less cumbersome and maybe more convenient than a Hawley retainer, and it’s less apt to interfere with your voice.

Clear plastic retainers have the following disadvantages:

  • They can’t be changed if you decide to realign your teeth. It will have to be changed out.
  • It is not possible to patch it whether it fractures or splits.
  • It has the potential to have a greater impact on your voice than lifelong retainers.
  • If exposed to sunlight, it will warp.
  • It has a tendency to discolor (and become more visible) over time.
  • This form of retainer prevents the top and bottom teeth from naturally touching.
  • It will trap liquids against the teeth, potentially resulting in cavities.

The form of plastic material used in the three most popular brands of transparent retainers is the biggest distinction between them. Vivera, Essix, and Zendura are the names of the companies.

Vivera is often mistakenly referred to as Invisalign. While the two devices are manufactured by the same manufacturer, Invisalign is a teeth-straightening aligner rather than a retainer.

Clear plastic retainers are becoming more common, and they are being used more often than Hawley retainers.

For one plate, the average price ranges from around $100 to $285. (Upper or lower).

Essix retainer

Essix retainers are a form of an orthodontic retaining system used to secure the braces or transparent aligner treatment outcomes. They’re a series of transparent, reusable plastic retainers that you’ll need to carry on a daily basis during the care.

Essix Retainers Benefits

  • Essix Retainers are clear, removable plastic retainers that are molded to your teeth for a comfortable and safe fit. They’re safe and simple to put on, and the translucent plastic makes them almost undetectable, similar to clear aligners used in orthodontic surgery. They’re very simple to clean: just brush them and soak them in a cleaning solution for quick grooming.
  • Furthermore, the Essix retainer’s form-fitted mold allows thorough retention, so this style of retainer can be more reliable and last longer when it comes to holding the teeth in position.
  • Since removable retainers are removed with both meals and beverages, they should not compete with eating or drinking. Food or other particles may get stuck in permanent retainers and may be challenging to clean.
  • The translucent plastic of the Essix retainer is even slimmer than a Hawley retainer, making it less likely to irritate your gums, cheeks, or tongue. It’s often less apt to make communicating tough, but you might notice a minor speech impediment when you get used to it.
  • As opposed to other transparent plastic retainers, Essix retainers have a significant cost advantage: Essix retainers are less expensive than Invisalign ViveraTM retainers, making them a cost-effective way to preserve the effects of the orthodontic treatment.

Cons of Essix Retainers

  • Essix retainers are less durable and long-lasting than ViveraTM retainers. ViveraTM retainers are preferred by many orthodontists over Essix retainers because of their snug fit and long endurance.
  • More costly to repair: Since transparent retainers are challenging to repair, they would almost certainly need to be replaced whether they crack, crack, or lose their form. Metal retainers are less difficult to restore than their plastic counterparts.
  • May need to be replaced more than a permanent or Hawley retainer if exposed to heat
  • It Will get discolored or stained with time if not cleaned enough
  • Top and bottom teeth do not connect while retainers are on, which certain patients find uncomfortable
  • Must be worn every night or may not be effective (with a permanent retainer, you may not need to remember to wear it)

Permanent retainers

A fixed lingual retainer is made up of a wire that is attached to the back of the teeth. If the teeth were really rotated, cramped, or lacked a lot of spacing between them before surgery, I usually prescribe a permanent retainer. A fixed retainer has the advantage of being lifelong, meaning you won’t have to worry about getting it in or out when it’s cemented to your teeth.

Both advantages and disadvantages

Permanent retainers are made up of a rigid or braided wire that is bent to match the outline of your teeth once they have been straightened. To protect the front teeth from shifting, the wire is cemented (bonded) to the inside of your teeth. They’re also known as a set, lingual cable, or bonded retainers, and they’re most often seen on lower teeth. Only the orthodontist or surgeon would be able to cut them.

When an orthodontist believes the teeth are more likely to relapse, or when an individual (such as a small child) may not obey the rules for using a removable retainer, they are sometimes used. While any are replaced at some stage due to excessive plaque and tartar accumulation or gum inflammation, the vast majority are kept in place forever.

The below are some of the benefits of wearing a lifetime retainer:

  • It’s not difficult to follow the guidelines on where and how long to wear it.
  • It is hidden from everyone.
  • It is unlikely to have an impact on your voice.
  • It cannot be overlooked or lost, and it cannot be easily destroyed.

Its drawbacks include:

  • Since you can’t remove it, it may be difficult to keep up with oral hygiene, including flossing. This can contribute to the formation of tartar and plaque, which can lead to gum disease.
  • It’s connected, which you do not like.
  • The metal wire can cause irritation to your tongue.

Permanent retainers, including the teeth, ought to be brushed on a regular basis. Using a threader to bring dental floss underneath the wire to clear food, plaque, and tartar is a good idea. Learn how to keep your retainer in good working order.

The average price ranges from around $225 to 550 dollars.

Cost of Retainer 

Cost of Retainer

This total costs are based on a combination of orthodontists’ and individuals who have had dental work’s self-reported values. Dental reimbursement is not used with these calculations. Consult your orthodontist, surgeon, or health agent and see how your oral insurance can support the procedure and how much it will cover.

Your position and the type of dental work you need are two of the most important variables in determining cost.

Orthodontists negotiate their own prescription costs, and your retainer could be included with the net expense of your dental work and braces.

Inquire with the orthodontist regarding the expense of implants or repairs if the retainer is damaged.

Estimated costs and comparison chart for different types of retainers

Typelingual wire, fixed, or bonded retainer (permanent)Hawley retainer (removable)Clear plastic retainers (removable): Essix, Vivera, Zendura
Cost of retainer$225–$550 for one arch (top or bottom)$150–$340 for one• Essix and Zendura retainers: $100–$300 for one
• Vivera retainers (which often come as a set of four): $400–$1,200 per set
Materialmetal wire: usually copper, nickel, titanium, or a combinationplastic or acrylic with metal wireplastic or polyurethane
How long it lastsindefinitely1–20 years6–12+ months
Pros• There’s no reason to pay attention to whether it’s appropriate to wear it.

• others are unable to see

• With it in mind, it’s easy to learn about it.

can’t be misplaced or misplaced

• can’t be quickly harmed

• It’s long-lasting and can be seen for a long time.

• the ability to adjust


To personalize, you can pick from a variety of plastic colors.


does not easily stain


It’s long-lasting and can for 10 years.


It’s easy to take out for eating and brushing your teeth.

• fitted to ensure the teeth remain in position for a longer period of time


•might be more relaxed because it’s thinner


• they’re transparent, so they’re “invisible”


•having several copies rendered is handy


•can be quickly taken out for feeding and oral hygiene

Cons•Oral hygiene, especially flossing, may be difficult to manage.


•cannot be cleaned, allowing tartar and plaque to accumulate (which can lead to gum disease)


•The metal wire can cause discomfort to the tongue.


•teeth moving is also a possibility in the future

•in front of the teeth, a metal wire is noticeable


•has the potential to be misplaced or harmed


•can result in an excessive amount of saliva output


•could be infested with bacteria

•it’s possible that it’ll need to be replaced at least once a year


•If substantial dental surgery is needed that affects the shape or size of the teeth, new impressions and retainers can be required.


•it’s more likely to be misplaced or damaged


•can result in an excessive amount of saliva output


•could be infested with bacteria

Some Frequently Asked Question about Retainer

Which type of retainer is best?

The way you look. A simple or permanent retainer is your best bet if beauty is essential to you. Clear retainers are nearly undetectable, but you may wear them at any moment and they can go unnoticed. Since the wire is located around the back of the front teeth, lifelong retainers are the same.

Which type of retainer is best after braces?

Following the completion of the orthodontic operation, clear retainers can be worn at all times of the day and night. After 3 months, it’s normally safe to transition to nighttime wear, although this will be evaluated at a later stage. After braces, Invisalign often makes the ‘Vivera’ transparent retainer, which is of a higher standard and lasts longer.

Which retainer is more comfortable?

The below are some of the benefits of using a transparent plastic retainer: Since it’s almost undetectable, you’re more inclined to wear it. It’s less probable that you’ll relapse. It’s not as cumbersome as a Hawley retainer, and it could be more convenient.

Why are retainers so expensive?

Partly because the expertise and materials needed to make one aren’t inexpensive, particularly if the office outsources the job to a lab. It isn’t prohibitively costly, but a dental practice is also an enterprise of heavy costs, so they must earn profits anyway!

What is the use of retainer?

Retainers are custom-made appliances that keep the teeth in their proper position. They’re often recommended after orthodontic surgery, such as braces, to help hold the bite in place after it’s been reshaped or fixed.

How does a retainer fee work?

A retainer fee is a charge paid in advance to a practitioner by a customer, and it is called a down payment for the professional’s perspective services. The retainer charge covers the initial costs of the working partnership, regardless of the profession.

Are retainers bad for teeth?

Bacteria can damage a retainer in the same way as they can harm teeth. There may be a concern with a person’s retainer if they start having cavities, teeth irritation, or other oral health issues all of a sudden.

Do I have to wear a retainer forever?

“Unless expressly advised differently by their orthodontist, adults can wear their adjustable retainer or retainers every night, whether three or 30 years after orthodontic surgery,” says Dr. Sarah Pollan, DDS, MS, an orthodontist at Park Hollow Orthodontics.

Can you drink water when wearing retainers?

Keep your retainer out of your bag, where it can be lost or twisted. Since the retainers are transparent, they will discolor whether you consume coffee, tea, pop, dark juices, or something else that isn’t clear. When wearing transparent retainers, water is prescribed as the beverage of preference.

Can you stop wearing retainers?

When successful therapy is completed, retainers maintain the grin in place. Adults may wear retainers for the rest of their lives, although children will be allowed to avoid using them after around 10 years.

Do retainers really work?

Once braces have been used to straighten the teeth, you’ll need a retainer to protect them from shifting. The new alignment of your teeth will take anywhere from four to six months to become permanent. During this moment, the teeth may attempt to revert to their original location, a process known as relapse.


Each form of retainer has advantages and disadvantages. Based on your teeth and the reason you wanted braces, the orthodontist will prescribe the right form for you. But don’t hesitate to think about your own style choices as well as the amount of time and commitment you’re able to put into it. Since you’ll most definitely be wearing and retaining your retainer for months or years, it’s important that you choose the right one for you and follow the instructions exactly.

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