What Happens After Braces?

What Happens After Braces?

After orthodontic treatment retainers are required to keep the teeth in their new positions. They are generally worn each night at the start and then as often as needed by the individual person.

So why are retainers so important? Orthodontic treatment to straighten crooked teeth can require years to complete. It could well be a long and difficult journey for the patient. Teeth move throughout life and a commitment to retention is needed to keep teeth in the desired positions.

The three standard kinds of retainers are the vacuum (Essix), the fixed (bonded), and the Hawley retainers. Lastly there is a new type of chrome cobalt retainer called the Somnowell.

The Vacuum Retainer (Essix)

The vacuum form retainers, also known ordinarily as the brand Essix, are made from clear plastic and clip over the all the teeth completely. One part for the upper teeth and one part for the lower teeth if needed. They don't permit the teeth to touch which some orthodontists believe is necessary for the teeth to achieve 'favourable settling'. Retention is a long-term commitment. Plastic vacuum retainers are a comparatively short term solution and will need continual replacement.

Fixed Retainers

Fixed retainers, also known as bonded retainers, are completely different from the Essix and Hawley removable retainers. A fixed retainer is a tiny metal wire braid that is bonded to the inside of the lower front teeth. They may occasionally be put on the inside of the upper front teeth depending on the individuals bite. Fixed retainers cannot be removed by the patient. Fixed retainers make flossing harder and the patient will need to use a special floss threader. Placing fixed retainers certainly helps to retain the front teeth, but has no effect on the back teeth, nor arch expansion.

Hawley Retainers

The Hawley retainers are the most well known type and have been around for some time. The Hawley retainer was developed by Dr. Charles Hawley about 100 years ago. The retainer is made of acrylic plastic and fits into the upper arch. It has a metal or clear wire that goes around the teeth to help keep them in position. One advantage of the Hawley retainer is that the wire can be adjusted to help finish treatment if required.

Somnowell Retainers 

The Somnowell retainers are made from cast chrome cobalt alloy. They effectively retain the back and front teeth and also maintain any arch expansion. Chrome cobalt is a well established material used to make the best quality dentures that frequently last for dozens of years. It is very strong in thin section and very robust. The Somnowell retainers do not cover all the teeth but only need to engage each tooth with a little component, making them a lot less bulky. Chrome cobalt alloy doesn't deform or degrade in the oral environment and should not ever need to be replaced. The material surface is highly resistant to oral fungi and like gold is an inert metal ideal for long term use in the mouth. The Somnowell retainers are always clean, fresh and comfortable, factors that will help improve compliance. Retainers that do not degrade and don't need replacing will further help compliance as the trouble of replacing plastic retainers is removed.