Retainers vs Aligners: Differences and How they work

Overview of Retainers

When thinking of getting our teeth straightened, most of us refer to orthodontists and think of using an apparatus such as braces or Invisalign. Teeth-straightening may be the most obvious part of this method, but retainers are exceedingly important, even more so than the removal of braces.

What are Retainers for Teeth?

Retainers are orthodontic apparatus whose function is to hold teeth straight. Patients frequently use them as a follow-up to braces removal. Beyond that, there are some types of retainers that doctors suggest following the removal process. They can conclude with their orthodontist, which among the many models suits their situation.

Overview of Aligners

Aligners are an exception to traditional braces designed to help guide your teeth into their proper position. Aligners use a progressive force to control tooth movement but externally metal wires or brackets.

The aligners are durable plastic material and are built to fit each individual’s mouth smugly. Each aligner moves the teeth in gradual movements if a series of aligners are attached after removing braces until the desired action is achieved.

Aligners are used for up to twenty hours and above in a day to reach the aspired maximum effectiveness. Each worn for a duration of three weeks before changing to the subsequent one.

Typically, aligner treatment can be three weeks or six months, depending on the post-treatment results.

Why do we need retainers?

Retainers are an essential step in orthodontic treatment since they are solely responsible for holding one’s teeth in their specified position once their treatment has been concluded.

Many patients believe that after many months or years of applying retainers, the teeth will naturally remain in the newly defined straight position post-treatment. However, the forces that are constantly generated inside our mouths by the muscles used to eat and talk are quite powerful.

They can perpetually cause our teeth to move back, further away from the defined position, which is why one must not neglect the value of retainers after teeth straightening.

Types of retainers

The three most prevalent types of retainers any patient will be able to want among the others are defined below with their advantages.

Removable Hawley Wire Retainers

These are detachable retainers made of a thin metal wire and either plastic or acrylic to fit the roof of one’s mouth or the inside of one’s lower teeth. The metal wire is set across the outside of the teeth to maintain alignment.

The advantages:

  1. These types of retainers last a long time.
  2. It can be tightened or adjusted.
  3. It allows the bite to sink into a more relaxed position.
  4. It can be custom designed with multiple colors, logos, and so on.

Removable Clear Plastic Retainers

These are kind of removable retainers which are moulded exclusively to perfectly fit the newly defined position of one’s teeth. They are additionally referred to as moulded retainers, which contain the technical name- thermoplastic or vacuum-formed retainers.

The advantages:

  1. These types of retainers hold the teeth in the accurate position there were adjusted to.
  2. These types of retainers protect the teeth from wearing due to grinding.
  3. These are almost invisible to the eye.
  4. They are less pricey to replace than other retainers.
  5. If any slight movement occurs, utilizing them full time can ease movement of the teeth back into the usual position.

Bonded Permanent Retainers

A permanent retainer is a type of retainer with a single wire made of either metal or strong fiber and fixed onto one’s teeth using a special bonding agent.

This wire used keeps one’s teeth in a specified position. Permanent retainers are more opted-for on the lower teeth and typically only impact the user’s front four to six teeth.

The advantages:

  1. It can also last for several years if properly kept and maintained regularly.
  2. They cannot be lost as they are lastingly glued onto the teeth for prolonged usage.

How long do retainers generally last?

Retainers are generally prescribed to protect the pre-removal process or the results as produced by an orthodontic treatment on one’s teeth. The longevity of the retainers as employed will depend largely on the kind of retainers that one has chosen for themselves.

The three primary types of retainers are the removable acrylic ones, clear ones, and fixed permanent ones.

The longevity of individual retainers depends on how well one takes care of their mouth and the retainer itself.

All retainers can potentially last for years if the user routinely cleans and avoids damaging them due to abrasion or movement. Ordinarily, removable retainers manage to stay for around five to ten years, while permanent ones can conceivably last for decades.

Why Do We Need Aligners?

Perhaps the most predominant reason for going for aligners is because they are easier to manage and work slowly to align the teeth to the desired position. If an individual has crooked teeth or gaps and has gone for treatment, they might feel go for aligners since it is one very effective way of achieving a perfect smile.

The user will be able to keep their mouth hydrated and clean with Clear Aligner Mints, which act as a more opted-for alternative as compared to Invisalign chewies that individuals can eat while wearing their aligners.

Types of Aligners

Invisalign Full

Invisalign Full is the best and complete mouth alignment method utilizing aligners that are worn on both the top and bottom teeth.

Invisalign Lite

Invisalign Lite lasts for a shorter while and is focused on correcting minor orthodontic issues, including mild to moderate overcrowding, gaping, and other alignment issues.

The wearer has to have fourteen aligner trays, hence shortening treatment time.

Invisalign Express

If an individual has tiny spaces or mild relapses from their prior orthodontic treatment due to the failure from the previous treatment or neglect in wearing the retainers, Invisalign Express needs the user to wear five to ten sets of aligners.

Invisalign Teen

The mandibular developments in this alignment technology straighten the teeth, relocate the jaw forward, provide room for erupting teeth, and improve both bite and chin form.

Invisalign First

The newest Invisalign type is designed for little kids and also those patients who qualify for interceptive orthodontics. Issues such as crowding, gaps, and narrow dental arches can be aided for growing children.

How do Aligners work?

Aligners are exclusively intended for each user to make small, controlled, and gradual movements at a time by applying gentle tension on their teeth, which said pressure is conveyed through the profound roots of their jaws.

Your jaw bone counters this resultant force by naturally moving the sockets, and your teeth follow this movement naturally. Due to the changes from aligner to aligner being small, the treatment with aligner technology serves to be gentle and more comfortable.

Aligners vs Retainers

Dental aligners and retainers may be similar in appearance but hold major and significant differences. However, while dental aligners and retainers are both essential forms of orthodontic care, they serve different purposes.

Dental aligners offer an effective way to achieve the desired tooth alignment and support your overall dental health. Aligners can also provide a thorough treatment of multiple alignment issues, while retainers are better reserved for post-aligner maintenance and accommodating slight misalignments that occur with time.

While retainers keep your teeth in one place, aligners are designed to move your teeth in small increments until the aspired position is achieved.

What to do if my teeth have shifted following the treatment of alignment or braces?

A simple retainer can solve this issue. If the shifting has befallen for a while, the process of resolving this issue may become more complicated. Certain patients may require to wear clear aligners every day for many months.

If any patient has ignored this issue for years, medication may need to be restarted entirely for their dislocation to heal.