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Retainers Only Treatment Timeline: What to Expect

By Kellyn Hodges on April 09, 2018

Photo of blue Hawley retainers on solid white surfaceDo you have one or two crooked teeth? Perhaps you have small gaps in your smile. Fortunately, minor orthodontic issues can sometimes be corrected with retainers only treatment instead of full braces. 

Here, our team at Hodges Orthodontics explores this option and discusses the retainers only treatment timeline so you can know what to expect when you choose our Philadelphia, PA practice.

Initial Consultation

The first step before any orthodontic treatment is an initial consultation with one of our doctors. During this visit, we will perform a full assessment of your teeth, gums, jaw joints, and other maxillofacial structures. X-rays and scans will also be taken to evaluate the positions of the teeth roots and the health of the bone that surrounds them. 

It is important to determine the complexity of your case so your orthodontic issue can be treated accordingly. At our practice, every treatment plan is custom-designed to the unique needs of the patient. If your orthodontic concerns are minor in nature, retainers only treatment may be recommended so you can enjoy the full benefits of straight teeth without the need for braces. 

There are generally two options for this type of treatment: a removable retainer or a lingual retainer, which can be bonded to the tongue side of the teeth. The option most suitable for you will depend on your specific dental needs.

Dental Impressions

If your orthodontist determines that you are an appropriate candidate for retainers only treatment, the next step will be taking dental impressions of your teeth. These will be used to cast a model of your mouth so that your doctor can use them to study your dentition and occlusion.

Fabrication of Retainers

If your orthodontist determines that a removable option is the best solution for you, a skilled dental technician will begin crafting your custom retainers. There are generally two options when it comes to removable retainers:

  • Hawley retainer: This appliance consists of an acrylic portion, which fits snugly against the roof of the mouth, and a wire portion, which stretches across the front surfaces of the teeth.
  • Essix retainer: This type of appliance resembles an Invisalign® tray. Designed to fit comfortably over the teeth, an Essix retainer is fabricated from a clear thermoplastic material.

Both options can typically be fabricated within one to two weeks. Your doctor will take your unique needs and concerns into account when determining which retainer option is the most suitable one for you.

Active Treatment

Once your appliance is ready, your treatment can begin. If your doctor has chosen a bonded lingual retainer, it will simply be placed in our office and will remain on the teeth until the desired results are achieved. 

If a removable option is used, you will be given specific instructions regarding wear. Generally, removable retainers must be worn at least 20 hours every day, removing them only to brush, floss, eat, and drink. Your total treatment time will solely depend on the complexity of your case.

Maintaining Your New Smile

Once your desired results have been achieved, you will still need retention to maintain your smile. Generally, you will be able to reduce your wear time to nighttime only, wearing them only while you sleep. After the first year, you may be able to retain your smile by wearing your appliances a few times per week. It is important to closely follow the guidelines given to you by your doctor, as patient compliance is the most important factor in successful treatment.

Learn More about Retainers Only Treatment

If you have minor orthodontic issues and have been avoiding treatment because you do not want to wear braces, retainers only treatment could be an option for you. To find out more, schedule a consultation at our practice. You can contact us online or call one of our three office locations in the Philadelphia area.

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We love Kellyn Hodges! She listens to her patients and provides excellent care! Her staff is very friendly and helpful as well! Tara F.

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