Types of Retainers: Keeping Your Smile Straight Long-Term

After completing orthodontic treatment, whether braces or 3M Clarity clear aligners, wearing a retainer becomes crucial. These dental appliances help maintain your beautiful new smile by preventing teeth from shifting back to their former positions. But with two main categories – removable and permanent – choosing the right retainer for you depends on your lifestyle and oral health needs.

Removable Retainers:

Offering convenience and flexibility, removable retainers come in two popular types:

  • Clear Plastic Retainers: Nearly invisible and comfortable, these aligners resemble Invisalign trays. They provide discreet tooth alignment and are easy to remove for meals and oral hygiene. However, they require a higher degree of commitment as they need to be worn for a specific number of hours daily.

  • Hawley Retainers: The classic metal-and-acrylic duo, Hawley retainers are highly durable and can last up to 20 years with proper care. They’re also relatively affordable, but their visible metal bar can be a cosmetic concern for some.

Permanent Retainers:

For a more set-and-forget approach, permanent retainers offer long-term stability:

  • Bonded Retainers: These thin wires are discreetly cemented to the back of your lower front teeth. They’re virtually invisible, require minimal maintenance, and offer excellent long-term tooth stabilization. However, some may find cleaning around them slightly challenging.

Choosing the Right Retainer:

Ultimately, the best retainer for you depends on your individual needs and preferences. Here’s a quick guide to help you decide:

  • Removable: Ideal for those who prioritize convenience and discretion, particularly if you grind your teeth at night.
  • Permanent: Perfect for those seeking a worry-free, long-term solution and are comfortable with bonded retainers.

Remember: Consulting your dentist is always crucial for determining the best retainer type for your specific situation. They can assess your oral health, discuss your lifestyle and preferences, and recommend the most suitable option.

With proper care and commitment, your chosen retainer will help you maintain your beautiful smile for years to come. Talk to our dentists today to determine the best type of retainer for your needs and enjoy a lifetime of confident smiles!

image of a hand holding invisalign trays
  • What is the best way to clean retainers?

    As you remove and replace your retainer during the day, germs and plaque will begin to accumulate. This is not an issue as long as you clean your retainer after each use.

    To begin cleaning your retainers, take them off and gently rinse them in warm water. Then, carefully clean your retainer with dish soap using a soft-bristled toothbrush. After you’ve cleaned every inch of your retainer, rinse it and let it dry.

  • How do you know when it's time to replace your retainer?

    Your retainers are strong, but they won’t last forever. Replace your retainer if you detect a loose fit, an unpleasant tight fit, or cracks emerging in the retainer. Continuing to wear a broken or warped retainer might harm your smile more than it will help keep it in place. If you break or lose your retainers, contact your orthodontist as soon as possible to get a new pair.

  • Can I use my last set of aligners has my retainer?

    Retainers are based on the final phase of treatment and are intended for the purpose of retention. Aligners are particularly developed to facilitate mobility. When the retention phase begins and what sort of retainer/retention strategy is suitable for the patient should be determined by the treating physician.

More Questions?

Still have some questions about what the best option for you is? Contact our office and we are happy to help!

Victor Smiles

7249 Route 96
Victor, NY 14564
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Monday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Pediatrics)
Tuesday: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Orthodontics)
Wednesday: 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Pediatrics)

Available By Phone: Monday-Thursday



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