Retainers are a necessary dental instrument when it comes to helping your teeth remain in their ideal position following an orthodontic treatment. Dr. Annette Van Natta, your dentist, will work with you to ensure you are provided the care and devices you need to be left with a straight and healthy smile that no longer requires any type of orthodontic assistance. Often associated with kids and teenagers, retainers are typically required after braces are removed to encourage good oral hygiene and proper tooth alignment. Generally speaking, retainers are used to hold straight teeth in place. While that is the main use, many people do not realize that retainers can actually help fix speech impediments and make sure that a child’s teeth grow in as straight and healthy as possible.

Unfortunately, many kids negate the importance of a retainer, opting to stow it under their bed or throw it in the school trashcan. This is why it is so important that we educate our children about the importance of good oral hygiene and the advantages of wearing a retainer. While it may not be the ‘cool’ thing in middle school, it will help preserve their teeth and give them that gorgeous smile later in life. It is the goal of Dr. Van Natta and our entire dental team to educate our patients – both young and old – about the benefits of wearing a retainer, as well as the various types available. If you have any questions about retainers, please do not hesitate to contact our dental clinic.

Do I Need a Retainer?

If you have just had braces, you may need to wear a retainer in order to encourage your teeth to remain in proper alignment. In most cases, retainers are used as the last phase of orthodontics treatment once braces have been removed. They should be worn overnight (if not longer, in some cases) in order to maintain the position of the teeth and prevent problems caused from grinding. Here is a look at a few of the main benefits of wearing a retainer:

  • Works to fight bacteria

    • Straighter teeth mean less plaque buildup, which can reduce the chance of cavities and other problems associated with bacteria.
  • Helps prevent diabetes

    • Wearing a retainer per your dentist’s suggestion will keep your teeth aligned, which can combat general health concerns, such as diabetes.
  • Improves breathing

    • There are several different types of retainers (see below), some of which are designed to help snoring and breathing problems at night.
  • Combats speech impediments

    • Some individuals wear retainers not to help with teeth alignment, but to combat speech impediments. Retainers work to adjust the placement of the tongue, helping kids to form sounds the right way.

Different Types of Retainers

As mentioned briefly in the above section, there are numerous different types of retainers on the market today. Here is a look at the three most common:

  • Hawley Retainer

    • This acrylic retainer is molded to the shape of the patient’s mouth and is a removable option. It comes in a range of colors, making it an attractive option for children
  • Clear Plastic Retainer

    • Made from plastic, this clear retainer is virtually invisible to anyone except the person wearing it. While not recommended for people who grind their teeth, this is a great option for adults and people looking for something less obvious
  • Fix Bonded Retainer

    • Typically placed on the lower front teeth, this retainer is not removable and must be left in place for months