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The Teeth-Taming Tool: What is Retainer?

March 25, 2024

Welcome, dear reader! Ever been struck by the question, "Hey, what is a retainer?" Let's go on a journey through the realm of dental retainers and unveil the mystery behind that clear, often invisible apparatus you might have seen people wear.


Introduction: Why the Buzz about Retainers?

Well, folks, it ain't no news that a perfect set of teeth can make one's smile more charming than a sunset on a beach. But keeping those pearly whites in line? Ah, that's where the magic of retainers comes into play.

Retention according to Moyers is defined as maintaining newly moved teeth in position ,long enough to aid in stabilizing their correction . Relapse is defined as "the loss of any correction achieved by orthodontic treatment".Retention of teeth in ideal function and esthetic position following orthodontic treatment poses the greatest challenge to orthodontists .
Stabilizing the treatment results by retention procedures is an integral part of orthodontic therapy and therefore provision should be made in the treatment plan for adequate retention keeping in mid in the destabilizing factors. Retainers are passive orthodontic appliances that help in maintaining and stabilizing the position of teeth long enough to permit reorganization of the supporting structures after the active phase of orthodontic therapy . The type of trainer depends on various factors such as type of malocclusion treated , the esthetic needs , patients oral hygiene , patient co-operation , duration of retention
According to Graber ,
1.The retainer should retain all the teeth been moved into desired positions
2.The retainer should permit normal function forces to act freely on the dentition .
3.It should be self -cleansing and should permit oral hygiene maintenance .
4.It should be as inconspicuous as possible


What is Retainer: The Dental Marvel

So, drum roll, please, what is retainer? A dental retainer, my dear Watson, is a custom-made orthodontic device often crafted from plastic or metal. Its primary purpose? To keep those teeth from running amok after braces have done their job. Imagine you've thrown this grand party, and now the guests (read: teeth) want to shuffle around. The retainer, like a gentle but firm bouncer, ensures everyone stays in their proper place.


The Fabulous Types of Retainers

Oh boy, we're in for a treat! There's a variety to suit your every mood and need:

1. Hawley Retainers

The old guard! They come with a metal wire that surrounds the teeth and an acrylic arch that rests against the palate.

2. Clear Retainers

The ninjas of the retainer world! Almost invisible and made of clear plastic, these babies fit snugly over the teeth.

3. Fixed Retainers

The permanent squad! A wire bonded behind the teeth, keeping them in check 24/7.

Type of retainers
Beggs retainer :

This retainer was popularized by PR Begg . It eliminated the risk of opening space up


Clip on retainer :

This retainer can bring about corrections of rotations commonly seen in the lower anterior region . In such cases where it is used as an active retainer , it is fabricated on the cast wherein the teeth are placed in ideal positions by wax set up


Kesling tooth positioner 

It was described by HD Kesling . this needs no activation at regular intervals intervals and it is durable . The drawbacks include difficulty in speech and risk of TMJ problems .


Invisible retainers

These retainers covers the clinical crowns and a part of the gingival tissue . They made of ultra tin thermoplastic sheets using a thermoforming machine . These are esthetic and often go unnoticed .the advantage is that it is minimal bulk and therefore not interfere with speech . These are quick to fabricate and inexpensive. 

Fixed retainers
These are fixed onto the teeth and cannot be removed and reinserted by the patient .


The fixed appliance
The fixed appliance was used for orthodontic correction can be left in the workplace to serve as a container 

Banded canine to canine retainer
It is used for the lower anterior teeth bonded lingual retainers. All individual teeth are retained with no possibility of rotation of incisor teeth. It is used to retain midline diastema.

Band and spur retainer
This type of retainer is used when single tooth that is orthodontically treated for rotating correction or labio lingual displacement

Special considerations in retention of certain malocclusion


Class 2 malocclusion
It is the result of discrepancies in growth between the maxilla and mandible
relapse following the correction of class 2 malocclusion are due to continued differential growth of the maxilla the use of headgears or functional appliances to maintain the class 2 correction is indicated if the active treatment is completed at an early age and continued growth is expected following the active phase of the treatment


Class 3 malocclusion
Retaining class 3 malocclusion may be a difficult task due to continued growth of the mandible . The use of chin cap to restrict mandibular growth has been recommended by some authors to counter the continued growth tendency of the mandible . Mid class 3 cases are best retained using class 3 functional appliances such as a reverse activator .however severe class 3 cases hat relapse following active orthodontic therapy ay require surgical correction after growth ceases
deep bite . This is best retained by removable upper retainer made in such a way that the lower anterior contact the base plate behind the maxillary anterior contact the base plate behind the maxillary anterior . This is similar to anterior bite plane ,but molars need not be separated . this type of retainer helps in maintaining the corrected deep bite.


Open bite
Relapse the following correction open bite is usually a result of molar extrusion or intrusion intrusion .Incisor intrusion may occur due to continued indulgence in habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting , the elimination of the associated etiologic factor that would help in the long term stability . Excessive vertical growth tendencies and continued eruption of posteriors may pose of the risk of relapse. In these patients open bites are bet retained by high pull head gears to upper molars or use of bite block appliances such as posterior bite plane that stretches the musculature and produces an intrusive force on the dentition


Why Wear a Retainer? The Reasons are Clear!

  • To Keep Teeth in Place: After braces, teeth can be rebellious rascals. Retainers ensure they stay put.

  • Post-Surgery Stability: After oral surgery, a retainer can help stabilize the new arrangement.

  • Tackle Minor Issues: Minor misalignment? A retainer might be all you need.


The Ideal Time to Wear Retainers

Day and Night! Initially, after getting braces off, it's a 24/7 affair. But as time goes on, wearing them only at night might do the trick.


How to Care for that Dental Darling

  • Clean Regularly: Just like you'd wash your car after a mud rally, clean that retainer!

  • Store Safely: Lost it in the couch? Nope, store it in its case.

  • Avoid Heat: No sauna sessions for the retainer! Keep it cool and dry.


Dental Do's and Don'ts with Retainers

  • Do Wear Them: It might sound as obvious as "Don't forget to breathe!", but yeah, wear them as advised.

  • Don't Use Toothpaste: Surprised? Toothpaste can be abrasive. Clean with mild soap instead.


FAQs on Retainers

1. How long do I need to wear my retainer?

Every case is unique, but usually, it's full-time for the first few months, then just nights.

2. Can I eat while wearing my retainer?

For removable ones, nope! Take 'em out. But fixed ones? Munch away!

3. How often should I replace my retainer?

Every couple of years, or if they're damaged. Listen to your orthodontist.

4. Will it affect my speech?

Initially, maybe a bit. But don't fret, you'll adjust in no time.

5. Are there any side effects?

Rarely. Some might experience minor discomfort initially, but it fades.

6. Are retainers expensive?

Cost varies, but they're generally affordable. After all, can you really put a price on a perfect smile?


Conclusion: Retaining the Final Thoughts

Phew! We've dived deep into the world of retainers. From understanding what is retainer to exploring its different types, we've covered the ground. Remember, just like you'd wear a seatbelt to stay safe, wear a retainer to keep that smile safe and sound.