Choosing the Right Retainer for Your Patient
Because each patient’s treatment is different, I use the table below as a general guide to determine which retainer is optimal.
The following case examples show how I applied the information in this table to two different patients that had completed orthodontic treatment. The first patient, Fahim, was prescribed both Clear Ortho retainers and later Clear-Lock retainers. The second patient, Jolene, received a Hawley retainer.
For protecting full-mouth restorative makeovers and maintaining tooth position, Clear Ortho retainers are an ideal choice. Their increased material thickness protects teeth and restorations from the harmful effects of bruxism. The downside to its thickness is some speech impairment and slightly less transparent appearance, making it more suitable for night wear.
Because Clear-Lock retainers have a thinner material thickness than Clear Ortho and Hawley retainers, the appliance is almost invisible in the mouth. This feature is appealing to day-wearers who wear their appliance in public. Clear-Lock retainers are available in sets of two, four or six. For patients who travel frequently, lose their appliances regularly or might damage their retainer, having an extra pair on-hand can save time and money.
Unlike Clear-Lock and Clear Ortho retainers, Hawley retainers don’t cover the full occlusal plane. Instead, a metal bar stretches across the anterior teeth, allowing the wearer to speak more easily. The Hawley retainer is custom waxed on the model during the fabrication process and offers a baseline material thickness of 2 mm.
Although I have occasionally requested offerings like the Essix® retainer (available through Glidewell) or a bonded lingual retainer for special cases, the Clear Ortho, Clear-Lock and Hawley appliances are my most frequently prescribed retainers.
Retainers can also be excellent practice-builders. When you present a solution to your patients that is comfortable and cost-effective, they will be eager to safeguard their smiles. Choosing the right retainer for your patient can mean maintaining their smile for many years to come.
Essix is a registered trademark of Raintree Essix Inc.