Post-Treatment From Your Salem Orthodontist

You have finally completed your orthodontic treatment and it is time to remove your braces to show the world your perfect, straight teeth. But it’s not quite time for treatment to end yet — you need to preserve the new position of your teeth by wearing a retainer. Retention is a critical step in controlling and limiting movement, so that your teeth stay in its proper place for the optimal oral function. At Bryan Johnson Orthodontics, we want to do everything that we can to help you keep your beautiful smile, which is why we will provide you with information on the various retainers we have to best suit you and your lifestyle.

Types of Orthodontic Retainers

On the day that your braces are removed, Dr. Bryan Johnson will take X-rays and impressions of your bite, so that he can fit you for your new retainer. We offer three types of orthodontics retainers:

Hawley Retainer

upper and lower blue acrylic retainers

The Hawley Retainer is the most common type of orthodontic appliance. It is made of an acrylic that is molded to fit your mouth with a metal wire that is designed to hold your teeth in its proper position. It is durable and easily removable. We also have multiple color options, so that you can personalize your own retainer.

The Hawley retainer is the most traditional retention device. It is easy to clean and maintain, and it can be more affordable than more modern retainers. Your Hawley retainer will sit on the roof of your mouth, behind your teeth. Though they are generally comfortable, some patients do experience gum and cheek irritation from prolonged periods of wearing this type of retainer.

One of the major benefits of a Hawley retainer is that it promotes significantly less bacterial growth than an Essix retainer. Research has found that the Hawley retainer leads to less plaque and calculus build-up on the teeth and gums. This means it promotes a healthier mouth by reducing contact with the teeth.

Essix Retainer

essix clear retainers

Essix retainers are transparent, so many patients prefer the aesthetic benefit of this type of device. The biggest reason patients prefer Essix retainers over Hawley retainers is the discreet ability to show off their smile without any visible metal.

Research studies have found the Essix retainer can be just as effective as a Hawley retainer, but there are a few things to note:

  • Essix retainers need to be thoroughly cleaned to prevent bacteria from accumulating on the teeth and gums.
  • They need to be replaced every few years.
  • They can trap liquid against the teeth.
  • The plastic covers your natural smile.

Fixed Retainer

fixed metal retainer on back lower model teeth

As the name implies, a metal wire is permanently fixed on the back of your teeth. This treatment type is best suited for patients who have a higher risk of their moving back to its former position. This is a more for long-term results for straighter teeth.

Though some patients may dread wearing a permanent retainer, it can be the most effective way to prevent the teeth from shifting back into their original position (orthodontic relapse). The good news is that you won’t feel this type of retailer, and you’ll never have to worry about putting it in every day, taking it out, or cleaning it separately.

Most permanent retainers cover four to six teeth, and they should be placed within four to six months after your braces come off.

Most patients are advised to wear a retainer permanently after braces. However, the amount of time you need to wear your retainer each day can gradually lessen over time. Many patients start off wearing their retainer all day and night, then transition to only needing a night retainer. 

The primary goal of a retainer is to stop your teeth from shifting — this can lead to new gaps, crooked teeth, and misalignment that requires repeated orthodontic treatment to correct. 

Keep in mind you can have both fixed and removable retainers at the same time. Dr. Johnson will customize your treatment plan to help you find the right type of retainer for your needs. 

Trust us, getting a retainer is much easier than getting braces! Dr. Johnson will take a dental impression of your teeth using a material like putty. This creates a mold of your teeth that is sent to a lab. There, the experts use the mold of your teeth to craft a retainer customized for your smile. It takes one to two weeks for us to receive the retainer, and then you’re good to go!

Skipping your retainer for a day (or forgetting to put it in) won’t harm your smile. Repeatedly not wearing your retainer — or not wearing it for enough time — increases the chance of your teeth moving. They can become crooked, gapped, or you may develop an overbite. Wearing your retainer according to your orthodontist’s instructions is the best way to keep your teeth straight after braces. 

For some children, getting into the habit of wearing a retainer after braces can be a challenge. Don’t worry — they can succeed with your help and encouragement. You can consider:

  1. Using a temporary reward system. Mark off each day your child wears their retainer for 30-60 days, and reward them with a prize at the end. 
  2. Create a get-ready checklist. Have a list on a whiteboard that your child checks off each morning before leaving for school. Make sure “Wear retainer” is at the top, so if they’ve forgotten, they’ll know right away. 
  3. Leave reminders. A Post-It note on the bathroom mirror can be enough to help your child remember to wear their retainer. 
  4. Remind them why it matters. Dr. Johnson would be happy to explain the importance of a retainer to your child. When kids understand the importance of retainers, they can feel more inspired to follow through with retention. Whenever they show resistance, you can gently remind them that retainers keep their teeth healthy and beautiful — wearing a retainer also means they won’t have to wear braces again!

Wearing a retainer doesn’t hurt. It fits snugly in your mouth and over your teeth. Just like you got used to wearing braces, you’ll feel more comfortable wearing a retainer over time. Eventually, you won’t even notice it's there. 

Contact Your Salem Area Orthodontist

It is important to keep your retainers clean and if it breaks any time throughout the treatment, please contact us for an appointment. Our caring Salem, OR orthodontist, Dr. Bryan Johnson, will make the necessary adjustments to fix your retainer or provide you with a new one. We also have 4 convenient orthodontic offices located in Salem, Stayton, Woodburn, and Silverton, OR.

Ready to Schedule Your Appointment?


* All indicated fields must be completed. Please include non-medical questions and correspondence only.
*Some appointments will be required to be in Salem office.

Accessibility Toolbar