Types of dental retainers essix retainer

Types of Dental Retainers- Which Will You Choose?

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Types of Dental Retainers

Dental retainers will always be needed even if you have partial treatment or extensive orthodontic treatment. Retainers are used to keep teeth from going back to their original position. There are different retainer options available. You can seek help from your orthodontist while selecting a retainer for your teeth. What are the different types of dental retainers?

There are usually two kinds of retainers. One is fixed and the second one is removable. Lots of factors are involved while choosing the retainer type.

A few major factors are given below:

  • Clinical needs
  • The desire of the patient
  • Overall compliance
  • Replacement and maintenance factors.

There are three most common types of dental retainers, which are given below: 

Different types of teeth retainers

  1. Removable Hawley Retainer 

This removable retainer is made up of acrylic plastic or wire. The wire will go around in front of your teeth, while the acrylic is molded in a way to fit perfectly inside your mouth. A good thing about these retainers is they are available in multiple colors and styles. These retainers are adjustable that allows your orthodontist to tweak your teeth even after braces. 


  • Cleaning retainers is easy. 
  • Proper care is needed so that these retainers can last long. 
  • These retainers are adjustable so these will naturally touch your teeth. 
  • Repair and tightening is easy.
  • Available in many colors and designs. So you can have fun with these retainers. 
  • It can be removed easily. 
  • These retainers are easily accessible and available. 


  • Their replacement can be expensive. 
  • There is a possibility of a slight movement of the teeth. 
  • There is an issue of bulky coverage so it can be problematic for some customers. 
  • These retainers are removable so there is a possibility that they might get lost or broken.
  • It can be noticeable as the metal wire can be easily visible. 
  1. Clear Plastic Essix Retainers

These types of retainers are made up of molded clear plastic. People love this retainer as it is less noticeable as compared to Hawley retainer. It is disliked by some orthodontists because it doesn’t allow your top and bottom teeth to touch naturally. 


  • Almost invisible.
  • Their replacement is inexpensive as compared to other retainers. 
  • These retainers are easy to remove. 
  • Offers protection from wear. 
  • In case of a slight movement of teeth if you are wearing these retainers full time then you will be able to get back your teeth into proper position. 


  • Cleaning of the interior surfaces can be difficult at times.
  • Contact between the teeth wouldn’t be natural. 
  1. Permanent-Bonded Retainers 

As it is clear by its name, this type of retainer will always be in your mouth. It will be glued to your teeth. Most of the orthodontists start with this retainer and you can switch to plastic or Hawley retainer after six months or year. This type of retainer is generally recommended when the teeth are crowded, rotated, or the spacing between the teeth is extensive before treatment. These retainers are cemented to your teeth so you don’t have to worry about taking them in or out. 

Lower teeth will develop lots of plaque over time so the cleaning will become difficult and can lead to other dental issues. If you are using the fixed retainers, make sure that you are cleaning it regularly. In case, if the retainer breaks you will have to quickly make an appointment to get it fixed. 


  • Long-lasting if they are maintained properly.
  • Retainers will not be lost because these retainers are glued permanently. 
  • These retainers are invisible (on the inside of your mouth) so they can’t be seen by anyone. 
  • Such retainers are fixed and bonded well so will keep your teeth well in place. 
  • It will not affect your speaking. 


  • Cleaning is difficult.
  • While eating hard things care is needed. 
  • As these retainers are fixed so there will be more emergency and removal will be problematic. 
  • The metallic wire might be problematic for the tongue. 

Bonded Retainer Top Teeth

These types of retainers are also known as permanent retainers. In these retainers, a metal wire is connected with glue to the back of your teeth.

These retainers can’t be removed by the wearer. A good thing about these retainers is these are not visible. Bonded retainers are mostly used when there is a risk that teeth will revert to the original position. 

Important information about wearing dental retainers

When you are advised by your orthodontist to wear a retainer, either fixed or removable, there are some important things to keep in mind. 

  • It is mandatory to wear your retainer all the time if the doctor has advised doing so. 
  • You should take your removable retainers out while eating. Put them where you can easily see them while eating otherwise it might get lost. 
  • Clean your dental retainer regularly at least once a day. Try to clean with warm water instead of cold water. Regular cleaning will help to get rid of plaque and odors. 
  • If you are not wearing a retainer, make sure that they are in place otherwise kids or pets may ruin it.
  • It will take some time to get used to a retainer. You may face difficulty while speaking.
  • Some retainers are expensive so their replacement might put a burden on your pocket. So take care of your retainers. 
  • If you are maintaining your retainer, you can use it for years. 
  • Keep your retainers away from pockets (you may sit and crush them), hot water (warp them) , and the washing machine. 

Types of dental retainers final words…

So these are the most common types of dental retainers. It is better to use retainers that are recommended by the orthodontist. Keep a few factors in mind while choosing retainers. Proper maintenance and care are needed. A retainer is the best choice that can save your teeth from reverting back to their original position. 

Kelly Hancock, RDH

Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.

This article and all advice on this website, Toothbrush Life, is intended to help people gain knowledge about general oral health topics. No articles or advice on this website are intended to replace professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or qualified healthcare provider to help you with any questions you have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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