Wearing braces to fix your dental alignment is but one part of the process. Your teeth can still move around and lose their alignment if there is no external support after removing the braces.
Dental retainers are used by braces-wearers to ensure that their tooth position and alignment hold properly after the braces have been removed.
This article is an overview of the types, benefits, and costs of dental retainers. Read on to understand what you should expect for your dental health after your braces treatment is over.
Dental retainers are compound devices made of either metal or clear plastic that sit over or behind your teeth to hold them into the correct position. This is required to ensure that your teeth, which may have a natural tendency to sit crooked, stay in the same alignment as with your braces.
Teeth are, after all, living tissue, and will always fall back to their natural position. Additionally, you might grow wisdom teeth which could change your oral structure.
Teeth also move around and lose strength in old age, which can lead to your teeth going out of alignment.
This is where retainers come in. By securing your teeth from moving either forward or backward and preventing them from overlapping with each other, dental retainers help maintain the same alignment as artificially created by your braces. They go onto the same teeth or jaw where you had your braces fixed.
Depending upon the shape of your teeth, the structure of your jaw, and post-treatment diagnoses for your braces, you could have to wear retainers for varying lengths of time. Typically, you would have to wear retainers for at least a few years.
Dentists recommend retainers to a majority of braces-wearers as a long-term solution for a perfect smile.
Although they come in different types and cost brackets, all retainers perform a similar function for your teeth.
Retainers are made from either metal, clear plastic, or a mixture of both. They can also be fixed or removable. Your dentist will prescribe the type best suited for you based on your pre-existing oral condition, reaction to braces, and aesthetic considerations.
This is a brief description of the kinds of retainer available in the market today:
Fixed or permanent retainers consist of a strong metal wire that is applied to the back of the teeth. It is used to hold 4-6 teeth in place permanently. The wire prevents the teeth from moving away from each other or bending inwards.
Bonded retainers do not show from the front, and hence, can be an ideal long-term solution if you need to wear retainers for multiple years. They are typically more expensive than removable retainers due to their aesthetic appeal and efficiency.
Remember that even fixed retainers need to be adjusted or replaced once every 5-10 years depending on the aging of your jaw and face.
Fixed retainers are a little more expensive than basic removable ones, but the fact that they are completely hidden is a plus for many people.
Hawley retainers are also metal retainers that can be removed and slipped on easily. The device is made up of a metal wire that goes across your teeth connected to a base plate made of clear plastic.
You need to remove your Hawley retainers while eating or drinking sugary drinks. Because you would be handling these retainers so often, you must follow a strict hygiene regimen to keep them clean and infection-free.
Hawley retainers have great longevity if cared for properly. Based on your condition, your dentist would advise you on the number of hours you should keep them on. Some people only require the retainers to be in place while sleeping.
The obvious downside is that these retainers are clearly visible when you open your mouth. However, they are the most affordable kind and can last you numerous years.
Clear Essix retainers are also removable retainers made purely of clear plastic. They consist of a customized mold of your teeth with a base plate to hold onto the gum. The device completely covers your teeth and prevents them from losing their alignment.
Clear Essix retainers also need to be removed while eating. This type of retainer is also quite affordable, however, it lasts for a shorter period compared to Hawley retainers. This is because of the lack of metal wires or plates for strong support.
Vivera retainers, or Invisalign as they are popularly known, are made from clear plastic and fit your teeth perfectly. The material is stronger compared to the Clear Essix retainers and hence you can expect these to last much longer without discoloration.
You will have to undergo a laser oral scan to get accurate dimensions of the teeth, gums, and jaw. The material is such it barely shows when you open your mouth to talk or smile. With the right care, Invisalign is a great long-term option.
There are various factors that your dentist must consider before prescribing retainers for you after your braces are removed. Some of these are:
Because the process is highly personalized to the patient, it is impossible to predict a single cost that applies to everyone. However, these price ranges given below can serve as a broad estimation of average treatment cost:
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