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What are complications of getting a clear plastic dental retainer?

Dustin S. Burleson, DDS
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
In a recent on-line poll of orthodontic offices 64% of the responding specialists reported using clear plastic dental retainers to maintain the alignment of your teeth after your braces are removed.

Clear plastic retainers have become more popular due to their ease of use, enhanced esthetics, comfortable accurate fit, ability to be quickly produced in the orthodontic office, and the elimination of older retainer assembly methods (which can be potentially hazardous to the technicians that make them).

That being said, clear retainers do come with certain complications or limitations. Clear retainers can crack, chip, or break in the presence of heavy clenching or grinding forces. Replacement is recommended if the retainer breaks.  
In certain patients, covering the biting surfaces of the teeth 24 hours per day with a clear retainer might produce changes in the bite. For this reason, many orthodontists will recommend that you wear your clear plastic retainer only at night or for a limited period of time during the day. In other words, wearing the retainer for 8-12 hours during the day or night will maintain the alignment of your teeth and taking the clear retainer out for the remainder of the day will allow proper function and of your teeth and bite.

If you are concerned with how your specific bite might affect a clear plastic retainer, ask your orthodontic specialist if a clear plastic retainer is right for you. He or she might recommend a fixed retainer on the inside of your teeth or a combination of clear retainers, Hawley retainers, tooth positioners, night guards or other methods to maintain the alignment of your teeth and bite.

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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.