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Different Types of Retainers

Making the right choice among different types of retainers is more important than some orthodontic patients may realize. That’s because retainers work – they keep teeth from shifting after a patient has their braces removed – and no one wants mobile teeth!

There are three main types of retainers:

  • Hawley retainers – These are traditional retainers. Made of metal and acrylic, they are removable and sit behind a patient’s top set of teeth. For most, it is only necessary to wear this at night after the first few months.
  • Essix retainers – This type is similar to clear braces and essentially covers the top layer of teeth like a cap.
  • Permanent retainers – Usually used for a patient’s lower set of teeth only, these are permanently bonded behind the teeth.

We’ll go into some more detail about these products below.

Hawley Retainers

Hawley-brand retailers are perhaps the most common and are made from a mold of a patient’s teeth. The customizable acrylic portion rests on the roof of a patient’s mouth and is held in place by two sets of wires, one of which goes around the front of the patient’s teeth.

With proper care, Hawley retainers will last for many years. They are also adjustable, allowing our dentist to find a perfect fit for maximum patient comfort. One plus is that patients find that Hawley retainers are exceptionally easy to clean.

Essix Retainers

Essix retainers are transparent and therefore far less noticeable than traditional retainers. They allow patients to eat or drink whatever they choose. Patients should be aware that Essix retainers can trap liquids and food particles against their teeth, so proper dental hygiene is essential.

Permanently Bonded Retainers

This type of retainer differs from the previously mentioned versions primarily in that it is not removable. This can make cleaning somewhat more complex; however, most retainers of this kind – sometimes referred to as a bar – still allow for brushing and flossing.

Permanently bonded retainers can be installed on both sets of teeth, but are typically used on the bottom set only. Some patients may start out with a bonded retainer before switching to another type. This type of retainer is highly effective for a great many patients. In terms of comfort, we’ve found that most people forget they actually have them on after a few days of wear.

Contact Us

If you are in need of a new or replacement retainer, simply call the number on your screen or visit our contact page.

Dental Retainers