There is a concept called Grabers criteria for the ideal retainer. These criteria mean looking for a retainer that keeps your teeth in their new positions correctly. It should also be able to allow normal forces on your teeth to keep your mouth working as it should. It should also be easy to clean, and strong enough to hold up to being worn almost all day, every day.
There are two main classes of retainers – the fixed retainer and the removable retainer. Each of these classes can be further subdivided into types (Shyamala Naidu & Anand Suresh, 2018)and with the many different types of retainers available, you should seek a specialist’s recommendation that will be specific to your needs.
If you’re coming to the end of your braces treatment, your orthodontist will no doubt be recommending a retainer that will best suit your needs. Or, perhaps your doctor simply recommended that you need a dental retainer to help make sure that your teeth stay in position. You may be surprised to learn that there are retainers, clear retainers, and retainers for braces. All of them have their own different pros and cons. However, before we get into all the differences between the types of retainers and which type might be best for you,it’s important that you talk with your orthodontic office and ask the question what does a retainer do anyway? And why do I need one?
What does a retainer do?
Retainers are orthodontic tools that are designed to help with retention. Retention is the phase of orthodontic treatment which maintains the teeth in their orthodontically corrected positions following the end of active orthodontic treatment (Shyamala Naidu & Anand Suresh, 2018).
Many times after you have undergone orthodontic treatment like getting braces or Invisalign, your teeth can sometimes not be quite set in their new positions. This lack of being set in their new positions can cause the teeth to shift over time. Your body naturally wants to put the teeth back into the old positions that they just came from. This can be a huge problem if you have just gotten your teeth into the right spots, made sure that they are in proper contact, have a good bite, and have a smile you deserve with no gaps in your teeth.
Obviously back sliding on that progress would be frustrating and annoying for many individuals. Instead of simply keeping the braces on indefinitely, there is a far less invasive method to utilize called the retainer. Retainers are designed to retain all the gains that you have made during your orthodontic treatment. Because they do this, their very name lets you know their function. Their job is to retain the teeth in the correct position until such time as your orthodontic office recommends that you no longer need to utilize them to keep your teeth from shifting.
This process often takes years just to be safe but your orthodontic office can talk with you and let you know what kind of time table you might be looking at and how long you may need to use your retainers for. It’ll always be different for different individuals. With that in mind, what is the best retainer for you and what are some of the options available?
Different types of retainers
The first type of retainers is a permanent retainer. They are called permanent retainers because similar to your braces, they are a metal retainer that is also affixed to your teeth and able to operate day and night. There are many benefits to this type ofdental retainer. One is some different sub styles of them such as lingual permanent retainers are attached to the back of your teeth making them nearly invisible.
The benefit is without the need to take it out of your mouth, there is significantly less chance of it getting lost or damaged. And, due to the structure and nature of their materials, they will last indefinitely if properly cared for. These can be a great option for individuals for whom remembering to put in their retainers and wearing them all the time would constitute a major annoyance. In terms of cost, they range from between $225 and $500, although depending on where you go, the price maybe a little higher or a little lower depending on your exact needs.
Hawley removable retainer
When individuals think about retainers, these the ones that they’re most likely thinking of. These retainers utilize wire and acrylic or clear plastic and are the ones that people are most familiar with. One of the benefits of these types is that they can be removed unlike the previous version. This allows you to be able to eat, brush your teeth, and floss without having to concern yourself with any orthodontic appliance or potential damage to the equipment.
However its strength is also its weakness and because this kind of dental retainer can be removed, it is far more likely to get lost or damaged. This is one of the reasons why it has a significantly shorter average lifespan. While permanent retainers can be used indefinitely if given the proper care, these retainers have a lifespan of between 1 to 20 years depending on your individual choices and what you do. Failure to take care of it will see you having to buy them far more frequently to maintain your orthodontic treatment than if you care for it properly in the first place. They are a little bit cheaper, usually averaging between $150 and $400.
Clear retainers operate very much like Invisalign. They’re designed to clip onto the teeth and are nearly invisible. In addition to being nearly invisible, they also have the secondary benefit of being removable. Like all retainers, they need to be cleaned for proper maintenance; otherwise their longevity will be significantly reduced. However, they are by far one of the most aesthetically pleasing with the exception of the lingual retainers, with the added benefit that these ones can be removed.
They have the benefit of high aesthetics and high flexibility for you as an individual. However, they do come with a couple of drawbacks. They are by far the most expensive, ranging anywhere between $350 to $1,200 depending on the quality, type, and brand you get, as well as the number of sets. And yes, these ones often come in sets because their lifespan is most often measured in months, not years. The lifespan is most often between 6 months to just over a year, but again this can vary significantly depending on how well you take care of your orthodontic equipment.
Ultimately, the choices are up to you. You need to decide what will be best for your pocketbook, your own self-esteem and well-being, and what you are capable of remembering to do. Talking through some of these questions with your orthodontic office can help you make an informed decision about your orthodontic needs and help you get the best retainer to protect your beautiful smile.
There is a way to choose the right retainer for you and it is done using Grabers Criteria. A good retainer should ensure that all the teeth that have been re-positioned should remain in the desired positions. If the retainer you choose does not perform this function, then it has failed and has wasted your time, money, and the orthodontic investment over the course of your active treatment.
In addition, it should not restrict the normal functional forces that are a normal part of how your teeth and jaw function. Your retainer ideally should be built to allow normal forces on your teeth. A big advantage of a good retainer is that it should be essentially self-cleansing. However, your orthodontist may still provide you with guidelines on cleaning your retainer.
In the same vein, your retainer must allow you to be able to maintain good oral hygiene practices.Finally, because you will be wearing the retainer for at least 22 hours per day, it needs to be strong enough to handle day to day usage.
It is important that your retainer meets these criteria. It will definitely be a good investment, as this will save you any frustration from having to replace it prematurely as it will last you much longer than if you obtained a lower quality retainer. Be sure you speak to your orthodontist to assist you in your decision making.
Shyamala Naidu & Anand Suresh. (2018). ORTHODONTIC RETAINERS. Orthoodntics. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338990573_ORTHODONTIC_RETAINERS/link/5e37c3a9299bf1cdb9084dbf/download