What kind of retainer is best for you?


Every Orthodontist is different when it comes to selecting a retainer. The decision is based on their experience with a particular type of retainer and years of knowledge on success rate for each type of retainer. Although somethings for you to consider when selecting a particular type of retainer, include: How much time are you willing to devote to using and caring for your retainer? How visible do you want it to be? Do you want a removable option or something permanent? You could be using a retainer for years or indefinitely, so it is important to pick a type that works for you.

Types of Retainers

From invisible to wire, retainers come in a variety of styles. There are multiple options to suit style and appearance preferences, but retainers fall into three basic categories: permanent and two types of removable styles.

  • Permanent retainers. Permanent retainers go by several names, such as bonded wire retainers, fixed retainers or lingual retainer wire. These types of retainers are considered permanent, because while an orthodontist can remove them, patients cannot. Permanent retainers are bonded to the back of the patient’s teeth. They can be placed on the lower six front teeth and/or the upper four front teeth, depending on what is needed. This type of retainer holds the teeth firmly in place to prevent them from moving back into their previous positions.

  • Hawley retainers. Hawley retainers may be the most widely recognized type of retainer. Commonly referred to as wire retainers, this style has been around for decades and continues to be a reliable option for orthodontists. They are made from a molded acrylic arch and wire, custom-fitted to the wearer’s mouth. They work by slowly maneuvering teeth into place or holding them in place, and they can be adjusted as needed. Hawley retainers are removable.

  • Clear retainers. These types of nearly invisible retainers have become increasingly popular in recent years, as the technology has dramatically improved. They are made from clear plastic, and like Hawley retainers, they are custom-fitted for the patient’s mouth. Because they are clear, they are hard to notice without looking for them. They are not considered as durable as other types of retainers and can be removed as needed.