Deciding what Type of Retainer to Wear

When the time has come to where you have almost completed treatment with  braces (or Invisalign), Dr. Dan will help you decide which retainers will be best for you and your bite. There are three main types of retainers that we offer (four including Invisilign Vivera retainers), and each has distinct advantages that different people prefer. Her is a description of each type to help you decide which retainer is best for you!

  • essix-header1Vacuum formed retainers:  Vacuum formed retainers are what is referred to as  “essix”clear retainers”, or “clear trays” by most patients. This retainer is made by vacuum forming clear plastic over a stone model of your teeth. Besides being comfortable, the advantage of this type of retainer is its clear appearance. Both upper and lower trays can be worn without them being seen (unless people are REALLY up close!). Kids and teens seem to really like wearing this type of retainer because of the way they look, and how easy they are placed. A relative downside compared to other retainer types is that longevity is usually less than the ones listed below.
  • A subset of vacuum formed retainers are Vivera Retainers, which are made by the Invisalign company. These are clear vacuum formed trays, but they come in a package with 4 sets of retainers, which addresses the longevity issue. When one set wears out, you move right to the next one. Vivera can be a nice option for people that grind their teeth at night, as there is full coverage over the biting surface.
  • Hawley retainers:  This type of retainer is the traditional type that usually comes to mind when picturing a retainer. Hawley retainers are Hawleymade of acrylic that is custom formed to the palate and inside of the upper teeth, and along the inside surface of the lower teeth. There is usually a metal “bow” that is formed to the outside surface of the upper and lower teeth. Hawley retainers have several advantages. They can be modified to stay in your mouth really well if this is an issue with the vacuum formed retainers, and they are very durable (they should last for years id well cared for). Depending on personal preference, some people like the feeling of their teeth being more “free”, as Hawley retainers do not fully cover the teeth like vacuum formed retainers. The acrylic can also be customized in any color, design, with glitter… the choices are endless! Relative downsides of this retainers is the visible metal bar across the front of the teeth, and a fuller feeling on the tongue side of the teeth.
  • BLR Intra oralBonded retainers:  Bonded lingual (which means tongue side of the tooth) retainers are tiny wires that bond permanently to the inside surface of the front teeth. Bonded retainers can almost always be used on the lower teeth, but due to the way teeth fit together, often they cannot be used on the upper teeth (Dr Dan will let you know where they will work for you). The main advantage of this type of retainer is that it is always on, and stays for years. Lower front teeth are notorious for crowding as people age whether they have had orthodontics or not, and bonded retainers will prevent this from happening. The disadvantage to bonded retainers is also that they are permanent and bonded to the back of the teeth- and this makes it more difficult to clean and floss around them. Because of this, I only recommend them for teens and adults who have great oral hygiene.

I hope this helps with the decision of choosing a retainer!


Dr. Dan Rejman is one of the few orthodontists that are Board Certified in Douglas County, Colorado. Meadows Orthodontics is located in the Meadows in Castle Rock, and will soon be opening another location in the Founders Marketplace in East Castle Rock.