There are many types of retainers used in orthodontics. In our office, we generally use Essix retainers (they resemble Invisalign® aligners) and a fixed lower retainer referred to as a 3x3. In a few cases we will use the traditional Hawley retainer with a wire across the front of the teeth. “Active” retention in our office lasts for 24 months, however, retainers should be worn as long as possible. The longer you wear them, the better the stability.

3x3 Retainer

3x3-retainerThe lower fixed retainer seen to the right is placed in about 90 percent of our cases the day the braces are removed. It is usually in the mouth for 2 years, at which time it is removed, and a removable retainer is placed. In certain circumstances, a removable retainer is placed in place of the fixed.



Essix Retainer

essix-retainerOur standard upper retainer is a clear, plastic appliance which has advantages over the conventional wire retainers. The conventional Hawley retainer must be worn 24/7 for a minimum of 3 to 6 months and then nightly. The clear Essix retainer is worn 24/7 for 3 days, then 12 hours a day for 3 weeks, then nightly. It also is invisible and much more comfortable. Most importantly, if the patient forgets to wear their retainer for a couple of nights and the teeth move slightly, the conventional retainer is very difficult to get back in the mouth. Often it needs to be remade, adjusted or retreated. The Essix retainer is produced with the same plastic as Invisalign® or ClearCorrect™, and thus when placed and worn 24/7 for a couple of days, realigns the teeth to their original position. We refer to them as the “saving grace” retainer.