After finishing orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign, retainers play a very important role in maintaining your new smile.
But with so many retainer options available, how do you choose between traditional metal retainers or modern clear retainers?
In this post, we’ll compare the pros and cons of metal and clear retainers to help you and your orthodontist decide which is the best option for your dental health and lifestyle.
How Retainers Help Dental Health
Custom devices, known as retainers, are worn after undergoing Invisalign treatment or braces to maintain the corrected positions of teeth. Without retainers, your teeth may naturally drift back to their original positions over time.
Both metal and clear retainers work by applying light constant pressure to teeth to keep them from shifting. Wearing retainers exactly as instructed by your orthodontist can help your newly adjusted teeth stay put.
Let's explore the different types of retainers below:
Traditional Metal Retainers: Pros and Cons
A metal retainer, also known as a permanent retainer or a fixed retainer, is a thin wire bonded to the back of the front teeth. Some orthodontists recommend metal retainers for the lower teeth since they stay in place. However, clear removable retainers are usually a better option for most patients.
Here are some of the pros and cons of metal retainers:
- Stays in place 24/7
- Low maintenance
- Long-lasting if bonded properly
- Makes flossing very difficult or impossible
- Very noticeable
- Needs diligent oral hygiene to prevent plaque buildup
- Must see an orthodontist to replace if wire breaks
- Lowest upfront cost option but is still pricier than clear retainers over time
Overall, metal retainers offer a hassle-free retention option if maintained properly. However, their fixed nature presents significant oral hygiene challenges and makes routine dental care difficult.
Clear Retainers: What You Need to Know
Clear plastic retainers are the best option for most patients after braces.
They are removable, making them much easier to clean and maintain compared to fixed metal retainers.
Here's an overview of clear retainers:
- Made of transparent plastic for very discreet wear
- Can be easily taken out for eating, brushing, and flossing
- Allows for proper oral hygiene and cleaning
- Lower cost to replace over time if needed
- Provides flexibility while still effective if worn as advised
Removable clear retainers offer the best combination of aesthetics, hygiene, and flexibility. While they do require diligent wear and maintenance, clear retainers are generally the better choice over fixed metal retainers for most patients after braces. A removable clear retainer provides more comfort and convenience in the long run.
Clear Retainers: Lifespan and Maintenance
Clear plastic retainers like Vivera are a popular choice to maintain teeth alignment after braces. With proper care, clear retainers typically last around 3 years before replacement is needed.
Caring for clear retainers involves:
- Soaking in a denture cleaning solution to prevent yellowing
- Storing in a protective case when not wearing
- Replacing if cracked or poor fit develops
Compared to fixed metal retainers, removable clear retainers allow for better hygiene and convenience. However, they do require diligent wear and care.
Movemints + Clear Retainers: The Perfect Partnership
Movemints breath mints are patented and uniquely designed to work hand-in-hand with clear plastic retainers.
Here's how Movemints can enhance your clear retainer experience:
- Biting into Movemints helps seat clear retainers properly, improving their fit and function.
- Movemints eliminate bad breath, with a spearmint, orange, or mint chocolate twist!
- The patented groove in Movemints presses aligners firmly against teeth for a better fit.
- Xylitol in Movemints prevents dry mouth, which plastic retainers can exacerbate.
- Movemints are ideal for on-the-go clear retainer cleaning when brushing isn't possible.
With their innovative grooved shape and teeth-friendly ingredients, Movemints are the perfect accessory for clear retainers. Keeping aligners firmly seated and freshening breath, Movemints make wearing clear retainers easy and comfortable.
How often should I wear my retainers?
Follow your orthodontist's customized guidelines for hours of daily/nightly wear based on your treatment. Initially, expect to wear retainers for 2-3 months full-time and then only at night after that. Schedule regular check-ups for your orthodontist to evaluate reducing wear. With removable retainers, maintaining the prescribed schedule is crucial.
How to clean and maintain your retainers?
Properly clean retainers by rinsing with cool water and gently brushing with a soft toothbrush to remove debris, avoiding toothpaste that could scratch. Also, soak your retainer in denture cleaner or retainer solution to disinfect it. When not in use, store your retainer in a dry case. If your retainer cracks, warps, or doesn't fit, see your orthodontist promptly.
How do Movemints help with my retainers?
Movemints have a unique shape that can help seat your retainer properly when you gently bit down on them. They're the xylitol mint that provides relief for dry mouth and pain, freshens breath, and comes in three delicious flavors: Spearmint, Orange, and Mint Chocolate!