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Teeth Retainer: Types, Importance and Use

Teeth Retainer: Types, Importance and Use

by Azka Munir · May 23, 2021

Teeth retainers keep your teeth in place after you have adjusted them using braces.

You finally have beautiful teeth but they will be of no use if they do not retain their position. They are of different types and serve an essential purpose in maintaining your smile.

This article discusses their types and importance. Keep reading to know why you should keep wearing them.


Teeth Retainer Types

Retainers are of three types.

They are either fixed or removable with there being two removable types of retainers.

Fixed retainers are also known as permanent or bonded.

While removable ones are either Hawley or clear plastic.

All three of them have their set of pros and cons.

woman wearing a type of teeth retainer


These are permanent retainers which are also known as lingual or fixed.

A solid metal wire bonded of titanium or nickel fits the shape of your teeth and bonds with it inside.

This is firm in place and attaches to the inside of the front teeth.

This helps them to stay in place and reduce any movement.

Your dentist may mostly attach them to your lower teeth.

You cannot take them off as they stay in place for life.

Moreover, your dentist may only remove them if there is a need to do so such as plaque buildup and gum irritation.

Plaque and tartar build up occasionally in people who use these retainers as it is hard to clean teeth with them.

Flossing is especially hard hence, that can lead to gum disease.

Moreover, since it is in place at the back of your teeth then it can irritate your tongue.

You can also feel it continuously and you may not like that you cannot remove them.

Though, it has also many advantages over other types of retainers.

Since they are the back, they are not visible. Hence, they do not affect your appearance.

Moreover, you do not have to worry about removing and placing them back in.

Also, its fixation does not interrupt your speech and lets you speak easily.

Another benefit is that you will never lose them as they remain in place.

Nor do they incur any damage.

Your dentist may recommend this especially to people who they doubt will not wear the retainers.

For instance, children may not abide by a schedule and set timings to wear retainers.

Similarly, some adults may not comply either.

Hence, your dentist recommends these when there are doubts of relapse.

These are the most expensive of the bunch. Others include:

hawley retainers


Removable retainers are of two types, Hawley and Clear Plastic.


Hawley retainers are a thin metal wire that is removable and fits the insides of lower teeth and attaches to the roof.

These are also known as the wire retainer.

It is visible to others but you can remove it while eating and drinking.

It has its set of pros and cons, these include:


  • It is durable in comparison to its counterpart, the clear plastic ones
  • Even if it breaks, you can repair it
  • These can last you for long
  • Your dentist can repair and readjust the retainer if you need slight adjustment years later
  • Your teeth have no hindrance and the upper and lower ones touch naturally

Though you should also consider the cons and disadvantages.

Since it is a wire, it is visible and that can affect your appearance.

Moreover, you will have the most speech problems with the Hawley.

This wire may also cause irritation inside your cheeks and teeth but you will accommodate that soon.

If you take proper care of these retainers then they can last as long as 20 years.

clear plastic retainers in a box

Clear Plastic

The most common type of retainers is clear plastic retainers.

They are removable vacuum form and are made from polyurethane or plastic.

Your teeth mold is created to fit around the retainer.

They last less long than both permanent and Hawley retainers.

Though, you can easily remove them for eating and drinking and put them on immediately after you are done doing that.

Its advantages include that since it is a clear plastic retainer that means it holds the teeth firmly and does not affect your appearance.

Hence, you will easily wear it and can even wear it outdoors and on formal occasions without anyone noticing.

Well, that means that there is much less risk of a relapse then.

Clear plastic retainers look a lot like Invisalign but they don’t serve the same purpose.

Invisalign aligns the teeth while retainers make sure that they stay in place after alignment.

Moreover, they do not lead to any speech impediments while talking.

Also, they are much more comfortable than their counterpart, Hawley retainers as they are not bulky.

However, they also have their share of disadvantages.


  • It cracks and breaks easily and once that happens you cannot repair it
  • If it comes in contact with heat then it can warp
  • It will not remain colorless if you don’t take proper care of it. It discolors and become yellow, which is quite visible
  • You need to clean it regularly otherwise bacteria builds up inside which can harm teeth
  • If you try to drink liquids with these on then those liquids can trap in your teeth and lead to cavities.
  • You cannot readjust it, you will have to buy a new one if there is a change in alignment.
  • It can be slightly uncomfortable as the teeth at the top and bottom do not touch properly

These are a more popular choice for dentists.

Among removable retainers, people prefer using these rather than Hawley because of their invisibility and comfort.

However, you need to take special care for cleaning them otherwise the bacteria will lead to other oral health problems such as cavity.

You can choose the type of retainers you want.


Importance and Use

Braces help to align your teeth either they are buck teeth, an overbite, underbite, or gaps in teeth.

However, they are new in their position.

Additional pressure through chewing and general growth can lead to a relapse.

Hence, you are told to wear retainers immediately afterward.

teeth retainer use

How to Wear Teeth Retainer?

As soon as the dentist removes your braces, they will give you a set of retainers.

They will fix the permanent retainers themselves while they will make a mold for your removable ones.

You will have to wear them immediately after you are free of retainers.

Your doctor will instruct you to wear them at all times if they are removable except for eating.

You cannot eat with your removable retainers on, however, you can surely eat with your permanent retainers.

You cannot remove them and they will remain in your mouth for the rest of your life.

That is a big benefit of permanent ones as you may not misplace them or forget to use them.

However, removable retainers are a different case.

Since you can easily remove them then it is easier to misplace them and not wanting to put them on.

You have newly straight teeth, obviously, you will want to smile widely without any retainers.

However, a little bit of patience will make this smile permanent and keep these teeth straight, otherwise, you will be repeating the orthodontic treatment in another ten years or less.

And what’s worse than that.

Therefore, wear your retainers at all times during the first year or six months as your dentist suggests.

Later you can continue wearing them at night.

Regularly schedule your appointment with your dentist to see if you are retainers are doing their job appropriately.

Schedule checkups with little gaps immediately after you remove your braces.

a brush cleans aligners

You will also have to regularly clean them if they are removable.

Your permanent retainers follow the same oral hygiene as your teeth.

Hence, when you brush and floss your teeth, do that to them too.

They are part of your mouth for life, so do not leave them unclean as that will lead to many diseases.

Moreover, their cleanliness is also part of your oral care.

Regarding removable ones, you will have to clean them daily using a toothbrush with soft bristles and nonabrasive toothpaste.

Do not brush hardly in case it could break.

Moreover, rinse it in warm water whenever you plan to take it off.

This will help prevent the hardening of food inside the clear retainers.

Furthermore, a soaking product will keep them bacteria-free and will not harden the tartar.

Also, if some food does get stuck then use a cotton piece to clean it.

Why Should You Wear Teeth Retainer?

Wearing retainers is not an option but a necessary step in getting the perfect teeth and beautiful smile.

You cannot miss out on this step as it will waste all your effort, time and money.

Besides, there are other benefits of wearing them too.

They also help to vacate space for wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth erupt in the age of 17 to 21 years and in this time they will exert pressure on teeth and they may relapse and go back to their original position.

However, wearing retainers at this time not only prevents relapse but makes space for wisdom teeth to erupt properly.

Furthermore, they also aid your speech.

Clear gate retainers can counter tongue thrust and help you to pronounce words more eloquently and clearly.

As they retain the alignment of your teeth then that also results in better speech clarity.

So, these are essential for your teeth, especially after a braces treatment.

doctor putting aligners on teeth


You should inevitably wear Teeth Retainer if you want your beautiful smile to last longer.

It is better to wear them for the rest of your life so that there is never any relapse.

However, if you commit to wearing them for the suggested time, then you can maintain your teeth’ new position for longer.

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