Orthodontic treatment is lengthy and often costly. Afterwards, orthodontists recommend having a retainer inserted frequently. But what is a retainer and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
What is a retainer?
A retainer is a tool in orthodontics that prevents the teeth from shifting again after they have fitted braces. There are different retainers. They all have in common that they hold the teeth in the new position. Without this stabilization, the teeth would return to their original position after orthodontic treatment. This relapse calls a retainer.
The name “retainer” comes from the English language and means something like “tooth stabilizer”.
The various types of retainers
After a completed orthodontic active treatment, you will use either a fixed or a removable retainer.
A tight retainer is a thin wire. It glues this wire with plastic behind the top teeth in the upper and/or lower jaw. In most cases, the dentist attaches it from one canine tooth to the other. This small wire prevents the teeth from moving to their original position.
After a fixed brace we often use it, for example after:
- the resolution of crowding of the front teeth
- a widening of a jaw
- the gap closure of a slide theme (a gap between the incisors)
- Tooth rotations, optical lengthening or shortening
If the retainer comes loose on one or more teeth, visit a dentist or orthodontist as soon as possible so that they can reattach it.
A removable retainer is a removable brace or splint that is placed over the entire row of teeth. It has the same effect as the fixed retainer and is used to fix the last position of the teeth after braces treatment.
The braces or splint must be worn permanently at the beginning to prevent the teeth from shifting again. After 6 to 8 months, it can also be inserted irregularly. However, if a feeling of tension should arise, the teeth have shifted, and the retainer must be worn more regularly again.
How the treatment proceeds
They create a retainer in the dental lab. Therefore, an impression is first taken at the first appointment. Then the dental professional will make the plastic splint/braces or he will bend the wire so it lies tension-free against your teeth.
At a 2nd appointment, the retainer is used. A fixed retainer is glued to the inner sides of the anterior teeth with acrylic. A loose retainer is inserted and possibly adjusted.
Advantages and disadvantages of retainers
After orthodontic treatment, retainers have almost only advantages. They stabilize the stand of the teeth so that all the costs and efforts of orthodontic therapy were not in vain.
A disadvantage can be the increased effort in dental care. Retainers that are glued straight are difficult to clean. You must go to a dentist once or twice a year, to do professional clean of that. Another prejudice is that proper health coverage does not provide for the costs of the retainer.
Does the health insurance company cover the costs?
The statutory health coverage only covers the costs of orthodontics if medically necessary. For adults, the costs are only covered if a surgical intervention is necessary to optimize the jaw conditions. However, the insurance company does not include in services retainer. It is only paid in exceptional cases and must be applied for and approved at the beginning of treatment.
The costs for a retainer are usually between 200 Euro and 450 Euro. You almost always have to pay these costs privately.