Comparison: Types of retainers available in Singapore after orthodontic treatment

5 April 2021

Categories: Braces, Invisalign
Lady smiling and holding clear retainer in hand

Who needs retainers?

A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic device to hold a patient’s teeth in place after completion of orthodontic treatment such as braces and Invisalign

There are 2 main types of retainers: removable and permanent. Under the removable category, there are clear, Vivera and Hawley retainers to choose from.

In this article, we’ll discuss each type of retainer and their pros and cons so you can make an informed decision!

Infographic - comparison of types of retainers

As the name suggests, removable retainers can be easily removed when necessary. 

If you’re a full-time wearer, it works similarly to Invisalign – take them out during mealtimes. Before bedtime, gently brush them before wearing them to sleep.

These retainers are convenient and easy to use. However, the downside is that relapse is common since there’s a high possibility of misplacing and damaging the retainers if not kept properly. 

There are 2 types of removable retainers: clear and Hawley.

  • Pros
    • Can be removed conveniently for mealtimes and brushing
  • Cons
    • May be misplaced or get damaged if not kept properly
    • Bacteria may accumulate if not cleaned properly

Price: $200 – $500
Lifespan: 6 – 12 months
Material: Plastic (polypropylene or polyvinyl chloride (PVC))

When it comes to clear retainers, there are 4 main brands: Zendura, Duran, Essix and Vivera. Each retainer is almost invisible and custom made to fit your new smile perfectly.

  • Pros
    • Almost invisible
    • Not as bulky as Hawley 
    • More comfortable than Hawley 
    • Not as likely to affect speech as compared to Hawley
  • Cons
    • Upper and lower teeth can’t touch naturally
    • Can’t be adjusted or repaired if required (have to be replaced)
    • May affect speech more than permanent retainers
    • May discolour over time
    • May warp due to extended heat exposure

Price: $900 – $1,200 (3 sets)
Lifespan: 3 – 5 years
Material: proprietary SmartTrack plastic

You’d be a fan of Vivera retainers if you’re an Invisalign patient! These clear retainers are made with the same SmartTrack™ material that provides a precise and comfortable fit. 

They work similarly to other clear retainers, but with the added benefit of Align Technology’s years of research and quality guarantee. 

Pros
  • Precise and comfortable fit
  • 30% stronger than other clear retainer materials*
  • 2x more durable than other clear retainer materials*

*Taken from Invisalign website.

Price: $900 – $1,200 (3 sets)
Lifespan: 3 – 5 years
Material: proprietary SmartTrack plastic

You’d be a fan of Vivera retainers if you’re an Invisalign patient! These clear retainers are made with the same SmartTrack™ material that provides a precise and comfortable fit. 

They work similarly to other clear retainers, but with the added benefit of Align Technology’s years of research and quality guarantee. 

Pros
  • Precise and comfortable fit
  • 30% stronger than other clear retainer materials*
  • 2x more durable than other clear retainer materials*

*Taken from Invisalign website.

Price: $580 – $750
Lifespan: 7 – 8 years
Material: Acrylic and wire

Another type of removable retainer, Hawley retainers are also known as wire retainers. They’re made of acrylic and a thin metal wire, designed to fit the roof of your mouth or the inside of your lower teeth.

The metal wire shows up across the outside of your upper teeth to hold your teeth in place. 

  • Pros
    • Upper and lower teeth can touch naturally
    • Adjustable
    • Can be repaired if damaged
    • More durable than clear retainers
  • Cons
    • Noticeable
    • Affects speech more than other retainers
    • May irritate lips and cheeks

Price: $300 – $500
Lifespan: As long as it doesn’t break
Material: Metal 

Permanent retainers are made of metal, typically copper, titanium or nickel. These retainers are also referred to as fixed, lingual or bonded retainers. The wires are arched to fit the back of your front teeth and bonded to keep them in place. 

This type of retainer is usually used when relapse is very likely or for patients who aren’t as disciplined to use removable retainers. It’s left in place indefinitely unless there’s excessive plaque buildup.

  • Pros
    • Not visible
    • Won’t affect speech
    • Can’t be misplaced or damaged
  • Cons
    • Requires more effort to maintain oral hygiene
    • Plaque and tartar may build up 
    • Wire may irritate your tongue

After undergoing orthodontic treatment, why do you still need to wear retainers for the rest of your life?

You see – without retainers, the effects of chewing are enough to cause your teeth to shift. If that happens, the money and effort you’ve put in will go to waste! Thus, you need to wear your retainers diligently to keep your teeth in place.

If you opt for removable retainers, your dentist will advise on the daily duration you have to wear them for. The typical instructions are to wear them full-time for a period of time, and subsequently, every night to sleep indefinitely.

What happens after I start wearing my retainers?

Once you start wearing retainers, your dentist will schedule follow-up appointments to check if your retainers fit and work well to keep your teeth in place. 

If required, your retainer may be adjusted, repaired or a new one may be made. 

Note:
If you lose or damage your retainer, see your dentist immediately! You’ll need to get it replaced before your teeth relapse.

 

FAQs

The 2 are very similar as they’re designed to fit your teeth snugly. But, they have different (in fact, opposite) purposes.

Clear aligners are made to slowly shift your teeth into their desired positions during orthodontic treatment. On the contrary, retainers are meant to hold your teeth in place to prevent any shifting!

The price of retainers will depend on the type of retainer you opt for. 

These are the estimated prices: 

  • Clear plastic retainers: $200 – $500
  • Vivera retainers: $900 – $1,200 (3 sets)
  • Hawley retainers: $580 – $750
  • Permanent retainers: $300 – $500

To get an accurate pricing, contact your dentist!

For removable retainers: 

It depends! You’ll be required to wear them full time for a period of time, followed by wearing them to sleep for the rest of your life. The duration of full-time wear will vary for each individual and will be advised by your dentist.

For permanent retainers: 

They’ll be bonded to your teeth so they’ll be there indefinitely if you maintain good oral hygiene. In the case where plaque and tartar have built up excessively, your dentist will remove the retainer, clean your teeth and have a new one bonded.

After completing your orthodontic treatment, your bones will need more time to adapt to the new shape of your mouth. Thus, they’ll need something to keep your teeth in place while repositioning to align with your straighter teeth.

This is where retainers come in – these orthodontic devices are custom made to fit the shape of your new smile. They leave no wiggle room for your teeth to shift. 

That’s why you’re expected to wear them for the rest of your life!

For removable retainers: 

Using mild soap and water, brush your retainer with a soft toothbrush. Don’t use toothpaste or a hard toothbrush as these may scratch your retainer.

For permanent retainers: 

  1. When brushing your teeth, use your toothbrush to brush the back of your teeth where the retainers are.
  2. Brush each tooth in small circles.

This will decrease the likelihood of any tartar and plaque buildup.

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