When deciding whether to have Invisalign ® orthodontic treatment or not, don’t overlook the fact that you will need to wear dental retainers after your clear braces treatment has been completed. The chance of tooth alignment relapse after braces treatment (including Invisalign ®) has been completed is substantial, and even very likely, unless orthodontic retainers are worn as directed by your orthodontist.
There are several different types of dental retainers that you and your dentist may choose to utilize for your retention phase.
After your Invisalign treatment has been completed you will be required to wear dental retainers.
Once your Invisalign aligners have been able to complete the realignment of your teeth, the next aspect of your orthodontic treatment will be the retention phase. This phase will involve your wearing of some type of orthodontic retainers.
Wearing your dental retainers after the completion of your Invisalign treatment will be just as important as your orthodontic treatment itself. Certainly, if you do not wear your retainer as your
dentist instructs, it is possible, and even likely, that your teeth will begin to shift. In even a relatively short amount of time, enough relapse can occur that the resulting misalignment is not easy to correct. Whatever the time frame (weeks, months or years), not wearing their dental retainers is the main reason why you hear of patients having to have braces a second, or even a third, time.
Types of orthodontic retainers.
There are a couple of different types of dental retainer designs that your dentist may offer to you. The broadest two categories are the fixed and removable retainers. These terms simply refer to the fact that the retainer is either permanently attached to your teeth or else is something that can be removed. You should thoroughly quiz your dentist about each type of dental retainer that they offer because each type will have its own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
A) Fixed orthodontic retainers.
Fixed dental retainers are also referred to as bonded or permanent retainers. As each of these terms implies, these retainers are attached directly to the patient’s teeth and are not something that they can remove. The most common type of fixed orthodontic retainer is a small diameter wire that has been bonded to the backside of a patient’s front teeth. While this type of retainer can in some instances be utilized with upper front teeth, it is much more commonplace to see it used to retain lower front teeth.
Advantages and disadvantages of fixed dental retainers.
A disadvantage associated with having a bonded retainer placed is that it makes it relatively difficult for the wearer to clean their teeth (flossing is especially inconvenient). If a patient does not have the skill or motivation to perform effective oral home care, it is likely that dental
plaque and tartar will accumulate around those teeth against which the retainer rests. Especially when a long-term time frame is considered, this debris accumulation could seriously compromise the health of the patient’s teeth (the most common complication being gum disease).
The great advantage of permanent retainers is that the dentist does not have to rely on patients for compliance. Unlike removable retainers that may be lost, damaged or simply not worn, fixed dental retainers are always in place to perform their duty.
B) Removable orthodontic retainers.
Essix orthodontic retainers are clear plastic retainers that, for all practical purposes, look essentially identical to Invisalign aligners. Of course, since they are retainers, Essix retainers are intended to just hold a patient’s teeth in place as opposed to move them and they are worn over a much longer time frame. For Invisalign patients, the use of an Essix retainer may seem the logical choice since they are already familiar with wearing this type of appliance.
Align Technology, Inc., the makers of the Invisalign system, manufacture their own version of the Essix retainer. They call them Vivera retainers. They are more durable than Essix retainers and also can self-correct any slight relapses. They also make you 3 sets so you have spares. Ask your dentist about Vivera Retainers before accepting any alternative.
Advantages and disadvantages of removable dental retainers.
The clear advantage of removable dental retainers is, just as their name reveals, they are removable. This means that they are easily removed when the patient eats or brushes and flosses their teeth. The disadvantage of removable retainers is that they can be lost or else simply not worn. No retainer can perform its intended function if it is not worn. A pleasing advantage of the Essix retainer is that it is fabricated from a clear plastic. This means that, just as with your Invisalign aligners, most people will be unaware that you are wearing an ortho retainer. Since the shape and thickness of these retainers is so similar to the Invisalign aligners, patients typically find them comfortable to wear and easy to speak with.
People who have a habit of clenching and grinding their teeth can wear holes in their Essix dental retainers. Vivera retainers on the other hand are usually more robust and are less likely to become damaged.
Which is the best type of dental retainer?
The best type of dental retainer is that type which you will wear, as directed. Fixed dental retainers are an excellent choice, if you will brush and floss your teeth properly. On the other hand, removable retainers can also be expected to provide excellent service but only if they are worn. More information on Invisalign here