What You Need To Know About Retainers

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Over two millenniums ago saw the creation of the earliest record of orthodontics which changed Dentistry and the ways we straighten teeth and address malocclusion.

Through fixed or removable devices, orthodontics granted individuals with spacing and bite problems many choices on how to improve their dental health and achieve their best smiles.

Fixed and Removable Orthodontic Appliances

As their name suggests, fixed orthodontic appliances are non-removable. They are attached to the teeth with brackets bonded to each tooth and archwire connecting them. Meanwhile, removable orthodontic appliances cover the mouth’s roof and are fastened onto teeth.

Orthodontic appliance, whether fixed or removable, straighten teeth by moving them through gentle pressure to the jaw.


Another essential orthodontic appliance is a retainer. Often, dentists will suggest the use of this orthodontic appliance toward the end of the treatment. Through it, the straightened teeth are preserved in place. It also helps the gums and bones adjust to the new position.

Retainers are used to prevent the risk of relapse as a result of the recoil of gum fibers, pressure from the soft tissues, and the on-going development of the mouth.

Types of Retainers

Retainers come in fixed and removable types. Fixed ones are further sub-divided into multi-strand, fixed canine, and reinforced fibers. Meanwhile, removable ones include Hawley and vacuum-formed.


Retainers of this type are attached to each tooth of the labial segment. They also utilize acid-etch composite or composite resin bonding. Additionally, multi-strand retainers are the most recommended among fixed options as a fixed canine can lead to a relapse of the incisors, while reinforced fiber is more susceptible to fracture.


Named after its inventor, Dr. Charles A. Hawley, Hawley is the most common type of retainer. It is made of metal wire which encloses the six anterior teeth. The orthodontic appliance is then merged by two omega loops which then adjust it for minor movements of the anterior teeth.

The Hawley type is robust and easy-to-make. Moreover, it can add a prosthetic tooth or teeth. However, compared to other retainers, it is not as effective when it comes to lower incisors retention.


On the other hand, a vacuum-formed is clear and fitted to the entire curve of the teeth, meaning it goes from canine to canine only. As it resembles a clear aligner, it is less apparent and easy-to-wear. Although it is recommended to be worn even at night, it is not recommended for those who tend to grind their teeth as it is likely to break and deteriorate.

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