Designed to maintain dental alignment and stabilize the gums and bones, retention is the final phase of treatment. The duration of full-time retention is generally one year. After that, retainers are worn primarily at night. Compliance with wearing your retainer is extremely important as it will protect the hard work and investment from previous treatment.
Goals of Retention
- To maintain the corrections obtained during the initial period following the removal of the braces or other appliances used for correction.
Benefits of Retention
- Preserves the results and protects the investment of your orthodontic treatment.
- Decreases and possibly eliminates the need for orthodontic treatment in the future.
- Maintains the health of your smile.
Types of Retention
- Clear Retainers – Clear retainers are not noticeable and if worn well hold the teeth very well. On the other hand, they can be worn through with heavy grinding or become distorted when exposed to heat.
- Removable (Hawley Retainers) – The wire of typical Hawley retainers wrap around the front surface of the teeth. They allow the teeth to naturally “settle” into place much better since there is nothing covering the biting surface. They also allow for easy adjustment to help keep teeth in check.
- Fixed Retainers – The great advantage of bonded retainers is that the dentist does not have to rely on patient cooperation. Unlike removable retainers that may be misplaced or simply not worn, fixed appliances are always in place to perform their duty. Another nice advantage of permanent retainers is that due to their location on the backside of the teeth it’s very difficult for others to detect them. The biggest disadvantage of bonded retainers is that they make it more difficult for the patient to brush and especially floss.