When most of us think of orthodontic work, we think of teeth-straightening options like dental braces and Invisalign. And it is true that a great deal of the work that a good dentist or orthodontist does involves making teeth straighter. Straight, uncrowded teeth are generally more aesthetically pleasing, but they are also easier to clean and maintain. In this sense, keeping your teeth straight is a relatively easy way to promote good oral health. We rarely think, however, about what comes after braces or Invisalign. Once they have been straightened, teeth do not often stay that way on their own. The tools we use to straighten your teeth are important. But the tools we use to keep them straight — plastic and metal retainers — are equally essential, even if the dental braces get much of the spotlight. But what are dental retainers? How do they work? What are your options? And which suits you better, plastic or metal retainers? Contact Dental Center of Norcross to learn more about the restorative services we offer.
How Do Retainers Work?
Dentists and orthodontists generally use dental retainers as a way of continuing care after a patient has had their teeth straightened, usually using dental braces. Once you have had your braces removed, a retainer is fitted to make sure that your teeth do not return to their original positions, undoing all of the work that the braces have done. In this sense, retainers are just as important as braces — and maybe more!
Plastic and Metal Retainers: What Are My Options?
Before we can determine if plastic or metals retainers are the right choice for you, it is essential to know the types of retainers that are out there. This knowledge will allow you to make an informed decision when presented with your options by your dentist or orthodontist. Of the options available, you should choose the one that best suits you in terms of your lifestyle and other factors that you will discuss with your clinician.
There are three main types of dental retainers on the market. All three are perfectly reasonable choices when a dental patient has gotten their braces off or has completed their Invisalign treatment. These are:
- Hawley retainers – When you picture standard metal retainers — actually made out of plastic or acrylic and metal wire — you are picturing Hawley retainers. This type of retainer is sculpted to match the contours of your mouth.
- Essix retainers – Essix retainers are classic, all-plastic retainers. They are transparent and are also molded to fit the contours of your mouth.
- Permanent retainers – Permanent retainers consist of a metal wire that is, as the name suggests, “permanently” affixed to the teeth. This wire can be either smooth or braided, and it is adjusted to your bite in order to keep your teeth straight.
Not all of these approaches are right for every patient, but with the help of an experienced dentist or orthodontist, you can get the most out of your device, whether you opt for plastic or metal retainers.
Plastic vs. Metal Retainers: Pros and Cons
As we have indicated above, there is more to the type of retainer than just its material. That said, each of the above has its advantages and disadvantages. Metal retainers, for instance, are broadly speaking more durable than plastic retainers. By examining the pros and cons of each, you can better decide which may be a good fit for you. When making your choice, you should consider that:
- Hawley retainers are effective and they are durable — this is why they are considered the “classic” metal retainer. However, they initially can be invasive and cause soreness, which can affect the speech. This effect typically goes away after a few days, but it is something to consider. Additionally, Hawley retainers are visible to others.
- Essix retainers are effective but are less durable than metal retainers. Many patients prefer them, however, because they are not as noticeable.
- Permanent retainers cannot be removed and can sometimes need adjustment in order to be more comfortable. But they are invisible, and because they are metal retainers they are extremely durable.
To learn more about which of these dental options might best suit you, make an appointment with a dentist or orthodontist you trust today.
Reach Out to the Dental Center of Norcross Today
If you are interested in transitioning from braces or Invisalign into plastic or metal retainers, the clinical team at the Dental Center or Norcross in GA is here to help. Reach out to us today using our convenient online form or call us at 678.504.6422.