If your teeth are only very slightly crooked or overlapping then there’s a chance that they could be treated using dental veneers. Veneers can cover a problem such as marginally crooked teeth by creating the appearance of completely straight teeth, but they can only be used when the problem in question is fairly minor. If your teeth are more badly out of place, however, then it’s likely that you’ll have to be fitted with braces or aligners of one kind or another, and that these will have to be worn, with regular adjustments, for a period of months. Eventually, there will come a day when the straightening of your teeth has been completed and your braces can be removed or your aligners put away, but this isn’t the end of the process.
Whilst your teeth may now be in the correct final position they will not yet be permanently fixed there. The periodontal ligaments which hold them in place may take up to a year to solidly fix in place, during which time your teeth might shift back to their pre-treatment crooked positions unless you wear a retainer, as directed by your orthodontist, to keep them in place. In most cases patients will only have to wear their retainer full time for a few months, following which they will just have to wear them at night until otherwise advised by their orthodontist.
There are three main types of retainer and below you will find a brief description of each together with a detailing of its’ pros and cons:
Hawley Retainers – These are constructed of wire and acrylic. The wire slots across the front of your teeth and the acrylic slits into place pressed neatly against the roof of your mouth and is completely hidden from view. Your orthodontist can also adjust this type of retainer if he wishes to make slight alterations to the alignment of your teeth.
- Pros – can be adjusted. Is easy to clean. Let’s your teeth meet in a natural manner. Durable if looked after properly.
- Cons – retainer is rather noticeable. May cause you to lisp slightly when speaking.
Essix Retainer – Anyone familiar with Invislaign Braces will find this type of retainer more than a little familiar. It is custom moulded from clear plastic and slots over the teeth being treated.
- Pros – once in place this retainer is all but invisible.
- Cons – it doesn’t allow the teeth of the patient to meet naturally. It wears out after a few years. It can trap liquid against the teeth and be difficult to keep clean, both of which might run the risk of causing decay.
Permanent Bonded Retainer – Unlike the other retainers this is permanently attached rather than being worn as and when. It takes the form of a metal band glued onto the back of the six front teeth.
- Pros – Is hidden from view. Keeps the teeth firmly fixed in place.
- Cons – makes it difficult to use dental floss. May irritate your tongue. Might require dental wax to aid comfort.