Retainer Types, Purpose, Images, How to Clean Them?

by Adeshpal

There are two standard forms of retainers: detachable and permanent. Your orthodontist will help you pick the best kind for you according to the reason you needed braces, and any conditions you may have. You might be given just one type, or you might get a removable retainer on your top teeth along with a permanent one for your bottom teeth.

A retainer prevents your teeth from moving once they have been straightened with braces. Depending upon the case, It may take at least four to six months for your new position of teeth to become permanent. Throughout this time, your teeth will attempt to change back to their first position, known as relapse.

Let us examine the various kinds of removable and permanent retainers and examine your alternatives.

Different Types of Retainers:

1. Removable retainers: Pros and cons

The advantages of removable retainers are:

  1. They are easily removed whenever you want to eat and also to brush or floss your teeth.
  2. They are relatively simple and easy to get.

The downsides are:

  1. They are sometimes lost or dropped when not on your mouth, particularly if they’re not stored in a case.
  2. They could cause excessive saliva production.
  3. Bacteria can develop and live on them.

The biggest problem with detachable retainers is that relapse is quite common.

This is because individuals may lose the retainer, as we can remove it, it’s easy to lose it. Then they may not replace it and don’t wear their retainer as frequently as instructed. Whenever you don’t utilize it, it can not function like it is supposed to, and your teeth will attempt to change back to their initial position.

The two kinds of removable retainers must be removed and cleaned using gentle cleaning daily. Your orthodontist can also advise soaking it.

There are two sorts of removable retainers: Hawley and crystal clear plastic retainers.

  • Hawley retainers


Also referred to as wire retainers, these are removable retainers made from thin metallic wire and acrylic or plastic formed to match the roof of the mouth or across the inside of the lower teeth. The attached metal cable runs around the exterior of the teeth to keep alignment.

The Hawley retainer has these advantages:

  1. It may last for decades if employed and cared for correctly.
  2. The retainer may be adjusted if you ever need a better fit, once you first get it if your teeth want slight realignment later.
  3. The top and lower teeth touch quite naturally with this kind of retainer.
  4. It could be repairable if busted.
  5. It is marginally more durable than a clear plastic retainer.

Its disadvantages:

  1. It impacts your speech over other retainers.
  2. It is more noticeable compared to the other different varieties of retainers.
  3. The cable may irritate your lips or lip initially.
  • Clear plastic retainers


These are removable retainers that are molded to perfectly match the new position of your teeth. They are also known as molded retainers.

To make this type of retainer, a mold of the teeth is created. An extremely thin vinyl or polyurethane is subsequently heated and sucked down round the mold.

A transparent plastic retainer has the following benefits:

  • It is practically invisible, and that means you are more inclined to use it. That implies relapse is not as likely.
  • It is not as likely to influence your speech compared to the usual Hawley retainer.
  • It is less bulky and might be comfier than the usual Hawley retainer.

Disadvantages of a clear plastic retainer:

  • It can not be adjusted if you will need realignment. It would have to be replaced.
  • When it breaks or cracks, it can not be mended.
  • It might impact your address over permanent retainers.
  • It may warp if exposed to heat.
  • Upper and bottom teeth do not touch obviously with this kind of retainer.
  • It may trap fluids from the teeth, which may result in cavities.

The most important difference from the three common brands of transparent retainers is the sort of plastic material that they are made from.

Vivera is sometimes wrongly called Invisalign. Precisely the same firm creates the two products. The primary difference between Invisalign and retainers is the purpose of each. While Invisalign is used to straighten and adjust your teeth, retainers are used to hold your teeth in place after they have been shifted using braces.

Clear plastic retainers are becoming increasingly more popular and are used more frequently than Hawley retainers.

Regular price varies from approximately $100 to $285 for a single tray (lower or upper ).

2. Permanent retainers: Pros and cons

Permanent retainers consist of a braided or solid wire that is curved to fit the shape of your newly straightened teeth. The cable is cemented (secured ) to the interior of the front teeth to stop them from moving. Most frequently used on teeth on the lower jaw, they’re also referred to as fixed, lingual cable, or bonded retainers. They can not be removed occasionally, except for the orthodontist or dentist.

They are frequently used when an orthodontist believes the teeth are extremely prone to relapse, or the individual (for instance, a child) will not adhere to the directions for utilizing a removable retainer. Though some are removed at some stage, generally because of extra accumulation of plaque and tartar or gum irritation, most are left in place forever.

A permanent retainer has these advantages:

  • It is not visible to other people.
  • It is unlikely to affect your speech.
  • Complying with instructions for when and how long to wear it isn’t a problem
  • It can not be lost or misplaced.
  • It can not be damaged easily.

Its disadvantages:

  • It could be really hard to keep oral hygiene, particularly flossing, since you can not remove it. This may lead to plaque and tartar to build up, possibly resulting in gum disease.
  • It is attached which you might not like.
  • The metallic cable may irritate your tongue.

Just like your own teeth, permanent retainers must be washed every day. Usage of a threader can make it simpler to acquire dental floss beneath the wire to eliminate plaque, food, and tartar.

Normal price varies from approximately $225 to 550.

Estimated costs and comparison chart for different kind of retainers

Typelingual wire, fixed, or bonded retainer (permanent)Hawley retainer (removable)clear plastic retainers (removable): Essix, Vivera, Zendura
Materialmetal wire: usually copper, nickel, titanium, or a combinationplastic or acrylic with metal wireplastic or polyurethane
Cost of retainer$225–$550 for one arch (top or bottom)$150–$340 for one• Essix and Zendura retainers: $100–$300 for one
• Vivera retainers (which often come as a set of four): $400–$1,200 per set
How long it lastsindefinitely1–20 years6–12+ months
Pros• there is no need to follow guidelines for when to wear it.
• it is not visible to others.
• easy to talk with it in place.
• cannot be misplaced or lost.
• cannot be damaged or broken easily.
• it is durable, can last for years.
• adjustable
• patient can choose plastic color to personalize
• durable, can last for years
• doesn’t stain easily
• can be removed easily for eating and oral hygiene
• they are fitted so that teeth stay in place better.
• they are thinner and may be more comfortable.
• transparent,so they’re “invisible”.
• convenient to have multiple copies made.
• can be easily removed for activities like eating and oral hygiene.
Cons• it is hard to maintain oral hygiene, especially flossing
• cannot be removed, so tartar and plaque can build up (which can ultimately lead to gum disease)
• irritation is possible to the tongue from the metal wire
• teeth shifting might be possible over time
• metal wire is visible in front of teeth
• can cause excess saliva production
• can be lost or damaged
• can have bacteria living on it
• may need replacing yearly.
• may need new dental impressions and retainers if major dental work that changes size or shape of teeth is required.
• it is easier to lose or damage it.
• can cause excess saliva production.
• can have bacteria living on it.

Other Factors for Retainer Prices

These estimated prices reflect an average of self-reported costs provided by orthodontists and individuals who have had dental work. These estimates do not take into consideration dental insurance. Speak to an orthodontist, or insurer about if dental insurance may pay for the treatment and how much of this price insurance will cover.

A couple of the most significant factors in price are your place and what dental work you require.

Orthodontists put their specific rates for treatments, and the expense of your retainer might be bundled to the general price of your dental work and your braces. Don’t forget to ask your orthodontist about the cost of replacements/repair if something happens to your retainer, to avoid any future conflict.

How to Clean your Retainer?

If you put on a retainer, then you could be asking yourself how to take care of it. Much like you brush your teeth daily, it is important to wash your retainer daily.

A lot of men and women will need to wear a retainer full time for a little while once they have their braces removed. That is because teeth are not set in a rigid environment. Even after they have been fixed by braces and proceeded into a much better position, they could alter over time, and try to shift back to their initial position.

Retainers assist the tissues and muscles in your mouth to maintain teeth in their new positioning. Some may even have to put on their retainers at night forever to maintain teeth in place.

Here is more about the many kinds of retainers, how to wash them, and other recommendations to maintain them well-maintained.

Cleaning varies according to the type:-

Taking care of your retainer begins with identifying which type you’ve got. There are 3 Kinds of retainers:

  • Hawley retainers are molded out of acrylic to fit your mouth. They have a wire which can help maintain the retainer in place. This sort of retainer is removable, so it is easy to wash.
  • Clear plastic retainers can go by the titles Essix, Vivera, or transparent aligners. These retainers slide about your teeth, and so are pretty much invisible. They are simple to remove but are not as durable as Hawley retainers. 
  • Fixed, or bonded, retainers may also be called permanent retainers. All these are attached to the lower front teeth. They are used in case you’ve got a high risk of getting your teeth position changed. You can not get rid of this kind of retainer. It is usually put into place for weeks or even years.

Cleaning Methods:-

1. Hawley and Transparent plastic retainers

The two Hawley and crystal clear plastic retainers may be taken out from your mouth to get everyday cleaning.

  • Be sure that you wash your retainer once you remove it from your mouth while it is still moist. This can make it much easier to wash off any debris before it hardens.
  • Brush your retainer with lukewarm water after every meal. It is a fantastic idea to brush your teeth this time too.
  • If needed, use a cotton swab to get in the deepest grooves and ridges on transparent plastic retainers. 
  • You can ask your dentist about soaking your retainer in a denture or retainer cleaner, like Efferdent or Polident. Should they advocate soaking, mix a cup of warm water with a single pill of cleanser, and follow the package directions for duration.

If you discover debris onto your retainer that will not come off, then take it to your dentist or orthodontist. You will find specific solutions that may eliminate stubborn tartar.

2. Fixed, or secured, retainers

These retainers are connected to your own teeth, and that means you need to floss them every day to keep them tidy. This process may seem intimidating at first, but you’ll gradually get the hang of it. Here is the way to wash your permanent retainer:

  • Get a 6-inch part of floss and utilize a floss threader to thread the floss between both front lower teeth.
  • Hold one end of the floss with your palms and another with all the threader.
  • As soon as you have the floss under your retainer cable, just move it up and down between the teeth all of the way into the gum. The floss should lightly go beneath the gum line if at all possible.
  • Slide the floss sideways to the next place that you would like to wash. Pull down till it is between your teeth.
  • Repeat this procedure with every tooth that is attached to your permanent retainer.

If you are having difficulty flossing, do not be afraid to ask for assistance from the dentist or orthodontist. They can advise you and provide additional tips.

Credits for video:- Braces Explained

If you decide not to clean your retainers, your retainer will keep collecting plaque, bacteria, and tartar from your mouth while you wear it. Over time, it may even start to taste or smell funny if you don’t clean it often enough. While many bacteria are usually found in the mouth, in case too many build-ups, they can cause illness.

You may also read about Hyperdontia and Buck Teeth

Why a retainer?

Even after your teeth are permanently in their new location, the effects of expansion, chewing gum, and everyday wear may result in relapse. So your orthodontist may recommend that you use a retainer for the rest of your life, from one of the different types of retainers available.

In case your retainer is removable, then it is essential to wear it precisely as your orthodontist states, or you may lose all of the advantages of your braces. One study revealed the most frequent instructions would be to utilize a retainer daily, seven days per week, for a year after the braces have been removed. Directions vary, therefore it is important to speak with your orthodontist about it.

When you get started utilizing your retainer, your orthodontist might want to look at your teeth to make certain your retainer is keeping them from going. They could adjust or fix the retainer or create a new one if desired. Normally, you will have checkups 1, 6, 3, 11, and 24 weeks after your braces are removed.

You should see your orthodontist as soon as you can if you lose your retainer by any chance, or it breaks or cracks. This way, it may be substituted before your teeth relapse and start moving towards their initial position.

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1 comment

John Diggle August 7, 2020 - 8:24 am

Nice read on retainers. Thanks for sharing


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