Which Retainer is Right for You?

By 2024, the orthodontic retainer market is expected to reach $388 million.

Retainers work by maintaining the proper alignment of teeth after dental problems are addressed. They are often worn after braces are taken off, to help ensure teeth do not shift. Orthodontists ask most patients to continue wearing retainers a couple of times a week once braces are off, sometimes for the duration of their life. If you need more advice on retainers, don’t hesitate to seek dental expertise at cosmetic dentistry south barrington.

Considering a retainer might be something you’ll be living with for the rest of your life, knowing what the different types of retainers are and what will suit you best is important. In this article, we’ll answer your retainer questions and help you in making an informed decision.

Which Retainer is Right For You?

What’s the Difference Between Braces and Retainers?

Before we dive deeper, you need to know the difference in retainer vs braces.

The primary difference is that braces are fixed to your teeth and apply subtle pressure to shift your teeth into proper alignment. Retainers are what’s worn once braces are removed. They are removable, usually worn a few times a week to ensure teeth remain in the alignment set by the braces.

What Types of Retainers Are There?

There are two different categories of retainer: fixed and removable.

Fixed means it’s a permanent retainer. A removable retainer is how it sounds, able to be taken out daily.


There are two types of removable retainers: Hawley and clear plastic.

A Hawley retainer is sometimes referred to as a wire retainer. This is because they have thin metal wire and plastic that is shaped to the roof of your mouth or the inside of your bottom teeth.

Clear plastic is molded to the shape of your teeth. They’re sometimes referred to as molded retainers.


  • A major bonus of the removable retainer is that you can remove them with ease each day to eat and brush your teeth.
  • They’re also easy to get.


  • If not worn often enough, you can suffer “relapse” where your teeth shift back to their original position.
  • These retainers can cause you to produce extra saliva.
  • It’s easy for bacteria to form on this type of retainer.


The fixed retainer, or permanent, has a wire that is fitted to the shape of your teeth. The wire is bonded to the inside of your teeth to prevent them from moving.


  • They are not visible to others.
  • A permanent retainer can’t be lost since they stay in your mouth.


  • It’s harder to floss when wearing a fixed retainer. This can then lead to tartar or plaque build-up.
  • The metal wire has a chance of irritating your tongue or mouth.

A Retainer Maintains a Healthy Mouth

No matter which types of retainers you get, it’s importance remains the same. A retainer helps to ensure your teeth remain in their newly aligned position and do not relapse.

We hope this article helped you understand the difference between the different types of retainers. If you enjoyed it, please take a look around our website for other interesting reads.


Married for eons, mom of 10, Nonnie to 26 with a great grand coming soon, to add to the mix. Avid reader and photo taker, scrapbook queen and jewelry maker. Collector of dishes, planners and pens. Lover of animals, chocolate and spends…long hours soaking in the spa tub (with a fully charged tablet, diet soda, and grub). She’s worn lots of hats, tossed most to the wind, and doesn’t mind starting all over again. Every day is a new adventure…come along for the ride!

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One thought on “Which Retainer is Right for You?

  • Great post! Hawley retainers may be the most widely recognized type of retainer. Commonly referred to as wire retainers, this style has been around for decades and continues to be a reliable option for orthodontists. They are made from a molded acrylic arch and wire, custom-fitted to the wearer’s mouth.


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