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Different types of retainers available

Understanding which type of orthodontic retainer is best suited for you is crucial in ensuring the long term success of your orthodontic treatment. Your dentist will help you choose the best type based on your dental requirements.

Getting Started with Retainers After finishing your orthodontic treatment in Singapore

Generally, retainers can be split into 2 main categories; removable & non-removable/permanent retainers. Based on the types of orthodontic treatment that you’ve undergone (Braces, Invisalign, etc) your dentist will advice you on the best type of retainers to suit your needs, requirements and accommodate any existing conditions that you may have. 

Retainers help keep newly adjusted teeth in their place after they’ve been straightened by Invisalign, braces or any other type of orthodontic treatment. It typically takes six to twelve months for teeth to become permanently fixed in their new position. During this time, your teeth will constantly try to shift back to their original position, this is also known as a relapse. In order to prevent a relapse from occurring, you will need to diligently wear your orthodontic retainers as instructed by your dentist. 

In this article, we’ll look at the different types of retainers available to patients in Singapore and compare each of them.

Here’s the estimated costs and comparison chart for the different types of retainers

These costs are estimated and mainly based on the average price dental clinics in Singapore typically charge. These estimates don’t take into account any payment plans or dental insurance.

Generally the 2 biggest factors that dictate the cost of any dental treatment is the location of the clinic and the type of dental treatment to be done.  

Moreover, when it comes to orthodontic retainers, most dentists bundle the cost of retainers into the overall cost of orthodontic treatment.

 

TypeFixed Retainers (permanent)Hawley Retainer (removable)Clear Retainers (removable)
Cost of the retainer$300 – $600 per arch (upper or lower set of teeth)$200 – $400 per retainer

Zendura, Duran and Essix retainers: $350 for a set of 2 arches

Vivera retainers (Usually comes as a set of 3 or 4 retainers): $1000 per set

Retainer materialMetal wires; titanium, nickel, copper or a combination of the metalsMainly plastic with metal wiresPlastic or polyurethane
Durability/Lifespan of the retainerPermanently secured in place; will only need to be replaced if it comes off on it’s own. Can easily last up to 20 years with the proper care and maintenance.Can last up to 20 years with the proper care and maintenance6 – 12 months
Pros
  • patients are not required to follow a strict retainer wearing protocol and can ‘forget’ about wearing their retainers
  • practically invisible as the retainers are fitted on the inner-surface of teeth
  • highly durable & able to last for many years
  • can’t physically be lost, since the retainers are always seated behind teeth
  • highly adjustable
  • can be customised to be colourful
  • does not stain easily
  • highly durable and can last for many years
  • can be easily removed for eating and maintaining good oral hygiene
  • retainers are fitted to match patient’s teeth
  • very thin & comfortable
  • clear and practically invisible – patients who have undergone Invisalign treatment will be familiar with these retainers
  • can be easily removed for eating and maintaining good oral hygiene
Cons
  • difficult to maintain oral hygiene as the retainers are permanently fixed to teeth an cannot be removed
  • tartar build-up is more prevalent as the retainers cannot be removed – which can result in gum disease
  • painful irritation of the tongue due to the metal wire attached to the inner surface of teeth
  • teeth can still shift over time if the retainer gets damaged or weakened
  • metal wires are visible as they sit in front of teeth
  • retainers can get lost unlike fixed retainers
  • prone to damage
  • can result in bacteria living on retainers if not cared for correctly
  • may cause excess saliva production in some patients
  • will require regular replacing (once every 6 – 12 months)
  • easy to lose
  • easy to get damaged
  • can result in bacteria living on retainers if not cared for correctly
  • may cause excess saliva production in some patients

Removable Retainers Pros and Cons

The clear advantages of removable retainers are:

  • Removable retainers are easily removable when patients want to eat
  • Removable retainers can be removed when patients want to brush and floss their teeth
  • The process of getting removable retainers is a fairly convenient and straight forward procedure

The disadvantages of removable retainers are:

  • Patients have the tendency of losing their removable retainers after removing them from their mouth – This is more prevelant in patients who don’t store their retainers in a case when not in use
  • Removable retainers can be damaged quite easily when they’re just left lying around when not in use – A common way that removable retainers get damaged is when patients accidentaly sit on them
  • Removable retainers can cause excess salivation to occur in some patients
  • Bacteria can grow and fester on retainers if they are not properly maintained and taken cared of

The biggest downside when removable retainers would be the fact that relapse cases are relatively common due to patients losing/damaging their retainers and not replacing them or simply not wearing their retainers as often as instructed by their dentist. Removable retainers only work when they’re being worn correctly and for enough hours a day – teeth will try to shift back to their original position and the retainers are the only thing that can prevent that from happening.

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

Hawley retainers in Singapore

Hawley Retainers

These types of retainers are commonly also known as wire retainers. Hawley retainers are a type of removable retainer that’s typically made from a thin piece of metal wire and a piece of plastic that’s shaped to fit roof of your mouth or along the inner surface of teeth on lower jaw. The metal wire is attached to the plastic and runs across the outer surface of your teeth to maintain the alignment of teeth after orthodontic treatment.

Advantages of Hawley retainers

  • The retainer can be adjusted for a better fit quite easily
  • Can accommodate adjustments in teeth that require slight realignment
  • More durable than clear plastic retainers
  • Can be repaired when broken.
  • Lasts for many years if properly maintained and cared for

Disadvantages of Hawley retainers

  • It affects speech more than other types of retainers
  • It’s more noticeable than the other types of retainers
  • The metal wire may irritate lips or cheeks

Average cost ranges from about $200 – $400 per retainer

Clear plastic retainers in Singapore

Clear Plastic Retainers

These type of removable retainers that are made from a FDA approval clear plastic that has been heated and vacuumed fitted through the use of a dental thermoformer in order to perfectly fit the shape and position of your teeth. They’re commonly known as clear retainers or ‘invisible’ retainers.

In order to make clear retainers, a 3D intraoral scan of your teeth will be taken through the use of a 3D intraoral scanner such at the iTero Elements 2. From this scan, a 3D model of your teeth will be printed using a 3D printer. After which, the 3D printed model will then be treated and used in the thermoforming process (A flat sheet of the clear retainer plastic is heated up and then vacuum pressed around the 3D model, creating the clear retainer) in order to the clear retainers.

Advantages of clear plastic retainers

  • Virtually invisible, no one will be able to tell that you’ve got retainers on
  • More compact that Hawley retainers
  • Less likely to affect speech compared to Hawley retainers
  • Considered to be more comfortable to wear than Hawley retainers

Disadvantages of clear plastic retainers

  • Cannot be fixed in the case of any damage – will need to be replaced
  • No adjustments are possible; if any adjustments are required, a new set will need to be made
  • May affect speech more when compared to permanent retainers
  • May warp when exposed to excess heat
  • Will become discoloured after long term use
  • May potentially trap food against teeth when worn which can cause dental cavities

There are 3 main brands of clear plastic retainers that are used by dentists; Vivera, Essix and  Zendura. The main difference between each brand is the type of plastic material used.

Vivera is the clear plastic retainer made by Align Technologies. Patients often get confused between Vivera and Invisalign as they’re both quite similar in appearance and are made by the same company. Invisalign is a clear aligner system which is used to straighten teeth, it is commonly used as an alternative to metal braces. Retainers mainly keep teeth their existing position rather than adjusting the position of teeth.

Clear plastic retainers have become high popular among patients who are looking for an ‘invisible’ solution when wearing their retainers.

Zendura, Duran and Essix retainers: $350 for a set of 2 arches
Vivera retainers (Usually made in a set of 3 or 4 retainers): $1000 per set ( $250 – $333 for a set of 2 arches)

Permanent Retainers Pros and Cons

Permanent retainers are cemented directly onto the inner surface of front teeth in order to prevent teeth from shifting. The main component of a permanent retainer would be a solid or braided wire that is fitted to shape your straightened teeth. Permanent retainers cannot be removed without the help of a dentist.

This type of retainers are typically used in cases where the dentist believes that there is a substantial possiblity of relapse, example of such cases include; young children and patients who are not compliant in wearing removable retainers. Some patients do have their permanent retainers removed at some point, typically only when there is an excess buildup of tartar on the inner surface of teeth or when there is significant irritation to the gums or tongue. For most patients these permanent retainers stay on and are perpetually left in place.

Advantages of permanent retainers:

  • Retainers can’t physically be removed without the help of a dentist. Patient compliance when it comes to retainer wear will not be a problem
  • Not visible as they’re hidden behind the front teeth
  • Unlikely to affect speech
  • Can’t be misplaced
  • Highly durable

Disadvantages of permanent retainers:

  • Maintenance of oral health becomes harder – especially flossing
  • Tartar build up can occur more easily which can result in gum disease
  • The wire may irritate gums and tongue

Permanent retainers should be cleaned on a daily basis through the use of a dental threader to get floss underneath and around the retainers wire in order to properly remove food and tartar buildup.

Average cost of a permanent retainers ranges between $300 to $600.

fixed retainers
fixed permanent retainers in Singapore
permanent lingual retainers
Lady wearing her retainers after completing her Invisalign treatment in Singapore

Importance of Wearing Retainers

After completing your orthodontic treatment using Invisalign treatment or conventional braces, it is highly recommended for patients to use their retainers all day, every day, seven days a week for one year. This practice helps to expedite the process of permanently locking teeth in their final position.

Even after teeth have been permanently locked in their final position, the daily effect of chewing, growing and everyday use can slowly lead to a relapse. As such, it is essential for patients to closely follow the instructions of their dentist when it comes to retainer use.

Consistent & diligent use of your retainers as recommended by your dentist will determine the success of your orthodontic treatment in the long-run. 

After completing your orthodontic treatment, your dentists will usually still want to continue to check your teeth to be sure that your retainer is keeping your teeth from shifting. When required, your dentist may adjust,fix or even make a new retainer when required. Usually, you’ll be asked to come back for a dental visit once in 1, 3, 6, 12, 24 months after you’ve completed your orthodontic treatment.

Do note that you should always see your dentists as soon as possible in the case that you lose your retainer or it gets damaged. This is to ensure that the possibility of a relapse is minimised.

In Summary

Based on your needs and requirements, your dentist will recommend the best retainer type suited for you. There are pros and cons to each type of retainer but ultimately best type of retainer for you would be the retainer that you’ll use and maintain as instructed by your dentist. 

If you’re looking to understand more about orthodontic retainers in Singapore or looking to get your next set of retainers, feel free to contact us to book an appointment with one of our esteemed dentists. 

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