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Braces

Retainer options

04/23/2008

Question:

A friend of mine and I were debating the subject of retainers. She recently had the "invisaline" treatment and was given a permanent retainer for the bottom teeth. My question is, is having a permanent retainer an option only, or is this the only type of retainer that is now used by orthodontists?

Answer:

First let me say that permanent is not a good word in working with the human condition. What you mean is a lingual (tongue side) bonded bar bonded to the lingual surface of the lower incisors. These, while usually quite strong, can become unbonded through chewing forces. If this occurs, the bar needs to be bonded again, often requiring removal of residual bonding material and etching of the enamel to hold the bonding.

Advantages: they are not lost.

Disadvantages: slightly difficult to floss and do not stay forever.

Options: Clear plastic vacuum formed retainer, which is clear but fragile. Another option is a Hawley retainer made of a front wire and inside plastic. It is fairly strong and can be removed for cleaning. It is slightly more expensive, but can be adjusted without a lot of time by the doctor. A disadvantage is that it must be worn some each day, for if it is left out, teeth will move.

Retention or keeping the teeth straight after orthodontics is needed just like glasses are needed for the eyes.

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Response by:

Walter C Buchsieb, DDS, MS Walter C Buchsieb, DDS, MS
Professor Emeritus - Clinical, Associate of Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University