What are the retainers in orthodontics?

retainer-photo-of-front-teethThe retainer is appliances to be used after completion of orthodontic tooth movement. It is used to keep the teeth in perfect position and also to prevent any relapse and problem that may happen after the removal of the braces.


There are three types of retainers.

  • Traditional Retainer
  • Permanent Retainer
  • Clear retainer

Traditional Retainer: which is called wrap-around retainer or Hawley, constructed of wire on the outside and plastic or acrylic on the inside. This kind of retainer provides best retention by keeping spaces closed and all the teeth aligned but are somewhat bulky and not very attractive.

Permanent Retainer: This is called the bonded retainer. It is a thin braided orthodontic wire or silk thread that is bonded or glued to the back of every lower front tooth. It provides the most control but it is the hardest to keep clean requiring floss threaded every time you want to floss. They are just inconvenient.

 Clear retainer: Clear Snap-On retainer (also called Essix retainer) is made of clear plastic that encases the teeth to be retained. The clear retainer also covers the chewing surfaces of the teeth therefore the bite is compromised. The clear retainer is not quite as effective in keeping alignment of the teeth as wrap-around, but they are more comfortable and esthetic. Study shows the patient are more cooperative with Clear retainer in comparison with traditional retainer the choice of which retainer to use is determined by the initial orthodontic problem and evaluation of orthodontist and patient’s decision.

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