Blog Post

Types of Retainers


Types of Retainers

Retainers are the key to keeping your smile straight and healthy after orthodontic treatment. Your teeth naturally want to shift over time as your jaw grows and your teeth grinding from eating. Good retainer wear during retention will keep you from needing orthodontic treatment a second time. It is important to follow instructions from Dr. Jolley once your braces are removed and your treatment is over.

There are three main types of retainers – Hawley, Essix and bonded. Depending on your unique case, Dr. Cameron Jolley might recommend one type or a combination of types for you. Each type is good for different situations and will keep your teeth from moving. Typically, Dr. Jolley will use clear Essix retainers or a Hawley for the upper teeth and a bonded retainer on the bottom teeth. Sometimes, you may even have a combination of Hawley and Essix. So what are the pros and cons of each?

Hawley Retainers

First of all, a Hawley retainer is made of acrylic and metal wire. The wire sets in front of your teeth and the acrylic piece is custom made to sit on the roof of your mouth. Hawley retainers are available in a variety of different colors and designs. The main benefit of these retainers is that they are adjustable and tend to fit longer. They are also relatively easy to clean; however, they are noticeable when wearing them. Also, the Hawley retainer is removable. Since they are removable, it is imperative you follow Dr. Jolley’s instructions for wearing them. If you do not, the retainer will no longer fit if teeth shift. Remember to put them in the case when not wearing them to prevent losing them!

Essix Retainers

Second, an Essix retainer is made of clear plastic and resemble Invisalign® aligners. These retainers are also custom made and are clear, but they do cover the entire front of the teeth. They are thinner than a mouthguard, but “click” on your teeth in a similar way. Although they are very hard to notice, they do not last as long as the other types because the plastic tends to wear out over time. In addition, they are a little more difficult to clean. Like Hawley retainers, Essix retainers are also removable so it is important to follow all instructions and utilize the retainer case to keep them clean and protected.

Bonded Retainers

Last, a bonded retainer is made by gluing a metal wire to the back of your teeth (usually your bottom middle six teeth). This type of retainer is permanent, you cannot remove it. However, it is very hard to see since it sits behind your teeth. This type of retainer is the best at keeping teeth in place since you cannot remove it or forget to wear it. However, it is difficult to floss and takes a little more time to clean when brushing teeth. The retainer may bother you for the first few days, but you will hardly notice it once you have gotten used to it!

Retainers Keep Your Teeth in Place

In conclusion, no matter what type of retainer you have, you need to wear it and take care of it to avoid a potential second round of orthodontic treatment. If you happen to lose your retainer or your retainer no longer fits, give us a call as soon as you can! These are both common problems after treatment and we are here to help. The sooner a replacement retainer is made, the better! Dr. Jolley may be able to adjust your retainer or could make you a new one. Retainers are the best way to keep your smile Jolley approved!