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What are the alternatives to getting a bonded dental retainer?

Dustin S. Burleson, DDS
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
Alernatives to a bonded dental retainer include several types of removable retainers. Removable retainers have been used successfully for many years and are probably the most common type of retainer. Patients identify immediately with the wire that runs across the front teeth to help maintain tooth alignment and symmetry. The Hawley retainer is probably the most popular type of removable retainer. It is made of plastic and stainless steel wire and is custom-made for your mouth and teeth. Variations of this type of retainer are too numerous to list, but they all achieve the same result -- maintenance of your new smile for life.

Since removable retainers can be taken out, patients frequently ask how long they need to wear the retainer. Most relapse, or unwanted tooth movement, occurs in the first 3-6 months after the braces are removed. For the average patent, you will wear your removable retainer full-time for the first 3-6 months, and thereafter only while sleeping. If your orthodontist recommends a period of time longer or shorter than this, he or she is protecting your smile against the factors we mentioned at the beginning of the article. For example, a patient with severely misaligned jaws and teeth might wear retainers for a longer duration than a patient with only minor tooth-alignment problems. If you are unsure of your retention program, be sure to ask your orthodontist or orthodontic assistant for specific instructions regarding the wear and care of your retainers.
 
Clear or Invisible Retainers. With the advent of new, clear plastic materials in orthodontics, patients can benefit from more esthetic options during the retention phase of orthodontic treatment. Clear retainers are comfortable, esthetic, and require no adjustment. However, they can be severely worn or broken if subjected to heavy biting forces. In our office, patients receive clear retainers as a back-up retainer and for social convenience during the first 3-6 months. If the Hawley retainer is lost or broken, the clear retainer can be used as a back-up, while our lab fabricates a new Hawley retainer. We have found this program to be very beneficial in maintaining healthy, beautiful smiles for life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.