Retainers Decoded: What Your Orthodontist Uses and Why
Oral Health Blog

Retainers Decoded: What Your Orthodontist Uses and Why


Orthodontic retainers are a crucial part of maintaining the results of orthodontic treatment. If you're curious about the types of retainers that orthodontists use, their costs, and common practices, this article will provide you with valuable insights.

What Retainers Do Orthodontists Use?

Orthodontists typically use a variety of retainers, and the choice depends on the patient's specific orthodontic needs.

Points to consider:

  • Hawley Retainers: These are the classic wire and acrylic retainers often used by orthodontists. They are customizable and adjustable, making them suitable for various cases.
  • Permanent or Bonded Retainers: Orthodontists may recommend permanent retainers, which are fixed behind the teeth to provide continuous support.
  • Clear Retainers: Clear retainers, like Invisalign Vivera retainers, are also popular and offer a discreet, comfortable option for many patients.

Why Do Orthodontists Charge So Much for Retainers?

The cost of orthodontic retainers can vary, and many patients wonder why they can be relatively expensive.

Points to consider:

  • Orthodontists invest in high-quality materials and craftsmanship to create custom-fitted retainers.
  • The costs also cover orthodontic appointments for impressions, adjustments, and monitoring.
  • The quality of the retainer and its role in preserving your orthodontic results make it a worthwhile investment.

Can You Choose Which Retainer You Want?

In many cases, orthodontists provide patients with options for retainers, allowing them to choose based on their preferences and specific needs.

Points to consider:

  • Orthodontists will recommend retainers based on your orthodontic progress and individual requirements.
  • Patients often have some degree of choice, but the final decision should align with the orthodontist's professional assessment.
  • Discuss your preferences with your orthodontist, and they will guide you to the most suitable retainer type.

Do Orthodontists Negotiate Prices?

Orthodontic treatment can be a significant investment, and some patients may wonder if they can negotiate the prices for orthodontic services and retainers.

Points to consider:

  • Orthodontists typically have set prices for their services and retainers.
  • Some orthodontic practices may offer financing options or payment plans to make treatment more affordable.
  • It's essential to discuss your financial concerns with your orthodontist to explore available options.

How Often Do You Go to the Orthodontist with a Retainer?

After orthodontic treatment, you will still need to visit your orthodontist periodically for check-ups and adjustments, even with a retainer.

Points to consider:

  • Orthodontists will typically schedule follow-up appointments at intervals ranging from a few weeks to several months.
  • These appointments allow the orthodontist to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your retainer.
  • Regular visits are crucial to ensuring the long-term effectiveness of your retainer.

What Is the Most Common Retainer After Braces?

The most common type of retainer recommended by orthodontists after braces is the Hawley retainer.

Points to consider:

  • Hawley retainers consist of a wire that goes across the front of the teeth and a molded acrylic piece that fits against the roof of the mouth.
  • They are versatile and can be adjusted as needed.
  • Many orthodontists prefer Hawley retainers for their effectiveness and customization options.

Are Plastic Retainers Thicker Than Invisalign?

Plastic retainers and Invisalign aligners are similar in appearance and material, but they may have some differences.

Points to consider:

  • Both plastic retainers and Invisalign aligners are typically made from a thin, clear plastic material.
  • The thickness of these appliances can vary depending on the specific brand and design.
  • Consult with your orthodontist to understand the specific characteristics of the retainer or aligner recommended for you.


Orthodontists use a variety of retainers to suit the individual needs of their patients. The choice of retainer type depends on factors such as the patient's progress, preferences, and orthodontist's recommendations. While orthodontic treatment and retainers can be an investment, the long-term benefits of maintaining a beautiful, healthy smile make it a worthwhile endeavor.

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The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to your health regimen. The author and publisher do not take responsibility for any consequences resulting from the information provided in this article.