Christchurch Orthodontics Ltd. - Russell Lovatt & Christine Bailey


Retainers are an important part of your treatment after the braces have been removed. Their function is to retain your teeth in the alignment we have achieved with the braces.  Time is required for the bone and gum to settle around the new position of the teeth.  Retainers can be either fixed or removable.

Removable retainers

The Essix Retainer (sometimes called an invisible retainer) is made of clear durable plastic which snaps into place over your teeth.  We usually use the Essix Retainer to retain the alignment of the upper teeth.  Once placed your teeth and gums show through the plastic making the retainers appear nearly invisible.

The Essix Retainer is initially worn full time and then eventually only when sleeping.  We will give you instructions specific to your needs when you receive the retainer, including when it should be worn and how to care for and clean it.

The Hawley Retainer is perhaps the oldest retainer in the history of dentistry.  Popularised by Dr Alfred Kingsley in 1858 it has become the most common retainer used by orthodontists worldwide for the past 100 years!    Although we constantly look for new and better treatment innovations, we do believe in using appliances that have withstood the test of time too! 

RetainersSome of our patients will receive an upper Hawley Retainer when their braces are removed.  It effectively maintains the alignment of teeth while simultaneously allowing for controlled and minute movements of the teeth, which orthodontists call ‘settling’.  When the retainer is worn as instructed, the patient’s occlusion actually improves in the critical first few weeks after the braces are removed.  Retainers are as important as braces in the long term results of orthodontic treatment.

The patient can choose the colour of the retainer and small pictures can be added.

FIxed or Bonded retainers:

Once the braces have been removed a wire is glued or bonded to the back surface of the lower front teeth.  It is a small custom bent stainless steel wire that is inconspicuous, easy to maintain and clean.

This retainer effectively maintains the alignment of the lower incisors, while simultaneously allowing for the controlled minute movement of the lower teeth, which the orthodontist calls ‘settling’.  Ideally this retainer should stay in place for several years or until facial growth has been completed.  As long as it can be maintained (Cleaned around) this wire can be in place for longer to help keep the teeth in their new positions.

Occasionally a bonded retainer may be placed behind the upper front teeth and it is used in a similar manner.