Will My Dental Retainer Re-straighten My Teeth?

Have you been wondering why your orthodontist told you you might need a dental retainer at the end of your orthodontic treatment plan? Many patients are so eager to finish and have their dental braces removed at the end of their treatment that they fail to consider what happens after they get their braces off.

Let’s stop for a second and think about everything you’ve had to do during your treatment. Depending on your choice of orthodontic appliance, you may have had to sacrifice a lot of your food choices to keep your braces as intact as possible and avoid orthodontic emergencies that require help from a Portland orthodontist.

This specialized treatment also requires investing a lot of time to achieve the ideal results. How long did you wear your braces? 6 months? 1 year? 2 years? During that time, braces slowly moved your teeth around, realigning them. To achieve that goal, the force applied by braces dissolves part of your jawbone to move the whole tooth; don’t worry, it was perfectly safe, and you knew that from the start. Right?

But now that you’ve completed your ortho treatment, you might be surprised to hear that all your efforts can come undone as you go into orthodontic relapse. Your teeth have a tendency to move as you age. They may even go back to their original crooked position, causing much frustration to people who completed their treatment.

To avoid all that, orthodontists recommend you wear a dental retainer.

What Is a Dental Retainer?

Dental Retainers are specialized orthodontic appliances used by specialists like Dr. Leemin to limit or negate the potential risk of orthodontic relapse. In essence, retainers are devices that help secure your teeth in position even after you’re no longer wearing dental braces or clear aligners.

These appliances come, primarily, in two categories: removable and fixed.

We’ll talk about each in more detail in just a bit. However, we wish to highlight the following. Retainers are your best ally in securing all your hard-earned results from your ortho treatment.

What Type of Retainer Is Best After Braces?

As we noted above, the two main types of retainers include removable and permanent ones. None are necessarily better than the other as they each have their own pros and cons. An experienced orthodontist in Portland will recommend patients or their caretakers one option over another, considering factors such as age, their record of compliance during the main treatment, dietary habits, and more.

Removable – Hawley Retainers

Just as traditional metal braces are the quintessential orthodontic appliance, Hawley retainers are the most well-known type of retainer. Even if you didn’t know them by name.

It’s made of plastic that can come in various colors depending on preference and availability, but perhaps the most iconic part of its design is the wire that goes across the outside of the patient’s teeth to secure the alignment.

It is rightly called a wire retainer by many, and they are easy to clean, but also misplace. The plastic or acrylic-shaped piece in the middle is custom-made to fit the patient’s mouth roof or the inside of their lower teeth.

Pros of the Hawley retainer are:

  • An orthodontist can further adjust the appliance as the patient, especially a kid, ages.
  • It’s slightly more durable than a clear plastic retainer.
  • It can last for years when under proper care.
  • There is no discomfort when biting down as the upper and lower arches remain in direct contact.

Cons of a Hawley retainer:

  • The patient will experience a longer adjustment period affecting their speech.
  • It’s not very discreet.
  • As with other braces using an archwire, it may cause irritation.

Permanent Dental Retainers

Did your orthodontist ever explain how “lingual” braces work? In short, they work the same as regular braces but remain concealed as the orthodontist bonds the brackets on the back of the patient’s teeth. We call that part the “lingual” surface of your teeth.

Similarly, permanent retainers are a lingual appliance as the orthodontist bonds a solid or braided wire to your teeth that is curved to the desired alignment of your newly straightened teeth.

These retainers remain cemented to the backside of the patient’s teeth and prevent any undesired movements. Only a specialist can remove them. If an orthodontist considers the patient will be unable to comply with instructions for a removable retainer, they will recommend this option instead.

Pros:

  • Permanent retainers are not visible to others.
  • This option won’t affect your speech.
  • You can’t misplace these retainers.
  • They are very durable.

Cons:

  • Maintaining good oral hygiene is hard, and you may need to invest in additional tools to clean your teeth and retainer.
  • The metal wire might irritate your child’s tongue.
  • They are more expensive than their removable counterparts.

How Much Will a Dental Retainer Cost?

As with other appliances, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cost unless you go to a consultation with a specialist. However, you should know that, on average, removable retainers, such as the Hawley and other clear retainers are not as expensive as permanent ones.

  • The average cost of Hawley retainers varies from about $150 to $340.
  • The average cost of permanent lingual retainers varies from $225 to $550, making them the most expensive retainer type.

Get in Touch with a Portland Orthodontist

Aren’t you eager to know what the best orthodontist Portland has will say about what option best suits you? We work closely with each of our patients to gauge their needs and goals and recommend the best treatment plans accordingly.

Keep browsing our website to find more useful information on everything you should know about orthodontic treatment. Also, make sure you set an appointment to learn more about our services and what options you can get here in our office

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Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

As a nutty overachiever, Dr. Leemin never lost sight of her childhood dreams of becoming a smartypants orthodontist. After graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors, she embarked on her career in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated #1 in her class. Feeling just a little too ambitious, she then completed 2.5 years of additional training at OHSU to become an orthodontic specialist.

Stanford University – Bachelor of Arts with Honors
Univ. of Pennsylvania – Doctor of Dental Medicine
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Master of Science
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Certificate in Orthodontics

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

Dr. Alix J. Leemin DMD, MS

As a nutty overachiever, Dr. Leemin never lost sight of her childhood dreams of becoming a smartypants orthodontist. After graduating from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors, she embarked on her career in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated #1 in her class. Feeling just a little too ambitious, she then completed 2.5 years of additional training at OHSU to become an orthodontic specialist.

Stanford University – Bachelor of Arts with Honors
Univ. of Pennsylvania – Doctor of Dental Medicine
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Master of Science
Oregon Health & Science Univ. – Certificate in Orthodontics