Once your braces come off, you probably think that’s it. You’re done! Yes, you are done with treatment, but you have one more step to take to ensure those beautiful, straight teeth stay that way. You have to wear your retainers.

You’re probably wondering, “why do I need retainers?” Your teeth have spent the last several months moving into their proper positions as your jawbone breaks down and reforms to hold them in place. Once they get going, they don’t want to stop! Your retainers will keep them in their new, proper positions until your jawbone hardens and keeps them there for good. Larson Orthodontics will fit you with retainers once your treatment is complete. Want to know more about your retainers? We’re here to help!

What Are the Types of Retainers?

Many people who hear “retainers,” think of those plastic ones with the wires that go across your teeth. That’s actually just one type of retainer. What are the other types? Let’s take a look. 

Hawley Retainers

These are the retainers we mentioned, one of the most tried and true methods of keeping your teeth in place after treatment with braces or clear aligners. Hawley retainers are made of an acrylic piece molded to your mouth. A wire stretches across your teeth to hold them in place. They’re easy to use and easy to keep clean. They’re also removable, making cleaning the retainers and your teeth easy. The downside is that they can be easy to lose if not stored properly, and you can forget to wear them for the prescribed 22 hours a day. 

Clear Retainers

Clear retainers, also known as Essix retainers or Vivera retainers (from Invisalign), are similar to an Invisalign tray. The clear retainer is custom molded to your teeth, so they fit perfectly. They keep them in position while being practically invisible, so people may not even know you’re wearing them. 

Like Hawley retainers, they are easily removable for cleaning and for brushing and flossing your teeth. They can also be removed for eating, but be sure to store them properly, so you don’t lose them. 

Larson Orthodontics mainly uses clear retainers because patients prefer the lower profile. We will use a Hawley retainer occasionally, but you will likely get clear retainers when your treatment with us is complete. 

Permanent/Lingual Retainers

There is a third type of retainer called the lingual or permanent retainer. Unlike clear or Hawley retainers, these retainers are not removable and are permanently bonded to the back of the teeth. The advantage is you never have to remove them and worry about losing them. They’re also nearly invisible since they are attached to the back of the front teeth. The disadvantage is the retainers make it more difficult to floss and keep tartar off your teeth. 

Cost of Retainers

How much do retainers cost? At Larson Orthodontics, your first set of retainers is included as part of your treatment plan! As long as you keep your retainers clean and stored properly, they should last you a long time. 

Typically, your prescribed retainer treatment will last about 12 months. Realistically, you’ll want to wear your retainers overnight for your lifetime to keep your smile perfect the whole time. At first, you will need to wear your retainers 22 hours a day for the first 3-6 months. This will give your jaw time to harden properly to hold your teeth in place. After that, we will examine you and determine if you can reduce your time in your retainer to a few hours a day — usually overnight. 

Maintaining Your Retainers

Once you have your retainers, you need to take care of them, so they last a long time. You need to keep your retainers cleaned properly. You can use a soft-bristled brush to gently remove food particles and plaque from your retainer. You can then soak them in warm water (make sure it’s not too hot because that can warp the plastic) and special tablets made to clean retainers and clear aligners. Soaking in baking soda water is a good way to clean clear retainers, too. You shouldn’t use toothpaste on clear retainers because the abrasive material in toothpaste can scratch your clear retainers, giving them a cloudy appearance over time. Soaking your retainers in mouthwash should be avoided as well because it could dry your retainer out enough to damage it.

You also need to store your retainers properly. We will provide a storage case when you get your retainers. You can purchase extra storage cases at local retailers or pharmacies. It’s a good idea to have an extra one to take with you when you’re out, in case you need to remove your retainers before meals. Never wrap your retainers in napkins. It’s too easy to throw them away! 

Finally, keep up with your regular visits to Larson Orthodontics. Your retainers may need an adjustment on occasion, which we will do. We’ll make sure your retainer is holding your teeth in place properly and is undamaged. 

With proper upkeep and routine checkups, your retainers will last for years! 

Keeping Your Teeth Beautiful

You’ve put so much into getting your teeth straight and your bite repaired. Retainers can help ensure they stay that way. If you’re in the Alexandria, VA, area, Larson Orthodontics can help you get that beautiful smile you’ve always wanted and maintain it. Start with an in-office consultation and find out how Larson Orthodontics can help you! 

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