Do I Have to Wear a Retainer?

The dental retainer is appropriately named, because it “retains” the marvelous changes you make to your smile and your bite during an orthodontic procedure. Retainers are especially important immediately after your procedure is finished because the bone surrounding your teeth has not quite “solidified” your new dentition. So while the retainer does not create any new movement of teeth, it does keep teeth from slipping back to old positions or into new, undesired locations.

How Long Will I Wear a Retainer?

Every orthodontic patient is different from the next. Therefore, the number of hours you need to wear a retainer each day, and for how long a period of time, depends on the treatment you received and the nature of your mouth. Patients might wear a retainer for only a few nights a week, every night or perhaps even during periods of the daytime. The important thing is to wear the retainer regularly, according to your Sacramento dentist’s prescription.

Types of Retainer

The following is a list of common types of retainers. Your retainer may need to incorporate more than one retention system to preserve your new smile.

Made by Align Technology, the Vivera retainer has all the advantages of Invisalign.

The Vivera retainer is very similar to an Invisalign aligner.

Vivera Retainers

The Vivera is a very popular retainer manufactured by Align Technology, the makers of Invisalign. Like Invisalign, Vivera is made of comfortable, clear plastic. It is easily attached and removed from the teeth and is ideal if we ask you to wear a retainer during the daytime. Even if you did not use Invisalign for your orthodontic procedure, we still recommend the Vivera retainer for the following reasons:

  • It’s stronger than other clear plastic retainers.
  • A Vivera purchase provides four retainers, not just one!
  • Vivera is produced from a digital scan, not a plaster impression.
  • Vivera works with other retainer systems.
  • Vivera can include false teeth for implant or other replacement procedures.

If you were an Invisalign patient, your Vivera retainer is based on your last set of aligners.

Lingual Wire

The lingual wire is simply a wire bonded to the back of your upper or lower front teeth. (Lingual means the side of your teeth facing the tongue.) The advantages to lingual wires are as follows:

  • You can’t lose a lingual wire.
  • You always wear it, retaining your results permanently.
  • It cannot be seen, since it’s hidden behind your teeth.

A lingual wire does make it more difficult to floss the teeth where the wire is attached, but this is managed by using floss threaders, water flossers or interdental brushes.

Hawley retainers have an established history of successful use.

On the left, a Hawley retainer for the lower teeth. On the right is one made for the upper teeth.

Hawley Retainer

This is the traditional retainer, familiar to orthodontics patients for decades. Using an impression of your upper or lower palate, a plastic body is shaped to fit the roof of your mouth or the area above your tongue. Wires attached to the plastic secure it to the molars and another wire bar attaches in front of your teeth. While the Vivera retainer is generally preferred over this retainer, for certain patients it may be the best retention solution. Like Vivera, a Hawley retainer is removable.

Show Me The Retainer!

If you have a retainer, take good care of it and always bring it with you to your regular dental appointments. Then our dentists can check its condition, make sure it still fits and that you’re using it properly. Based on the state of your teeth, they can make adjustments, provide you a new retainer or change your retainer “prescription.” Remember that you spent a lot of time and effort to create a better smile. Your retainer is what allows you to keep that smile just the way it is!

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