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Retainers in Boca Raton and Wellington

Here at Santelli Orthodontics, we want your new smile to be perfect… forever! Once we remove your braces, we move into the retention stage of your treatment, to ensure you can be confident in your smile for years to come. Your braces brought your teeth to the right alignment; let’s keep them there with retainers.

Your retention phase is a lifelong process, and your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers — so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far.

Teenage girl with plastic braces to use on her teeth

What Is a Retainer and Why Is It Necessary?

A retainer is responsible for the long-term maintenance of the desired, healthy teeth alignment achieved during your braces treatment. They have a really important job!

Wearing retainers teaches your teeth to maintain their new, straightened positions. Retainers also help keep your jaw in proper alignment. They “retain” your new smile by allowing the bone that holds your teeth to rebuild around the teeth’s new positions.

Retainers are a lifelong commitment. Teeth are always prone to shifting around, especially as we age — so if you want to keep your teeth in the perfect position that you achieved with your orthodontic treatment, you should use your retainers consistently and properly, as advised by your orthodontist.

Types of Retainers Available at Santelli Orthodontics

We offer four types of retainers to our patients; which one you use will be determined by your needs and preference.

Permanent Retainers in Boca Raton and Wellington

Permanent retainers, also called fixed or bonded lingual retainers, are exactly what they sound like — a permanent metal wire that’s fixed to the inside of your teeth with a glue-like bonding agent. They are typically used on your lower teeth. Bonded retainers can be difficult to clean, as they aren’t removable, but with proper care they can last a long time and require little maintenance.

Permanent Retainers: Pros and Cons


  1. You never need to remember to take a permanent retainer off or put it on.
  2. They usually don’t require any replacements or repairs because they’re very durable and sturdy.
  3. Because they’re permanent, it’s impossible to misplace them or throw them away.
  4. Bonded retainers cause little to no impact on speech patterns or sound.
  5. Aesthetically speaking, permanent retainers are invisible to others because they’re bonded to the back of your teeth.


  1. If they do break — because they’re not indestructible — repairs or replacements can be expensive. Plus, you’ll need to be present for those repairs, which can take up more time.
  2. Permanent retainers can be difficult to clean, because they can’t be removed. It can be hard to get behind the retainer to clean your teeth, which can cause plaque buildup, cavities, and even gum disease.
  3. You may experience irritation along your tongue and gums and in your teeth.

Removable Retainers in Boca Raton and Wellington

Removable retainers are custom-made and intended to be taken out or put in as needed. There are three kinds of removable retainers that we offer at Santelli Orthodontics: Hawley, Essix, and Vivera.

Removable retainers are made of plastic or a similar material, and sometimes use a combination of plastic and metal. Patients are often instructed to put retainers in at night when they sleep and take them out in the morning before going to school or work. They’re easier to clean than permanent retainers, but also easier to lose.

The Three Types of Removable Retainers We Offer

The Hawley retainer, one of the most common types of retainers, is removable and made of a combination of metal wire and sturdy acrylic. This retainer is specially made from teeth impressions or a digital scan of your teeth so it fits snugly and comfortably in the roof of your mouth, while any wire or acrylic framing keeps your teeth in perfect position. Many patients choose to personalize their retainer’s acrylic from a large number of colors and patterns.

The Essix retainer is a clear, removable retainer that fits over the entire arch of teeth. Essix retainers have no metal wires, and they’re virtually invisible. Essix retainers are made by taking an alginate impression of your teeth in the office, ensuring a snug fit just above your gum line.

Vivera retainers are made by Invisalign and look very similar to Invisalign aligners. Vivera retainers are made from a 3D laser scan of your mouth, instead of using a mold or impression of your teeth. They are made of a thick plastic material, made to keep your teeth in place, and they are virtually invisible. If you don’t like getting your teeth impressions taken, Vivera retainers are a great option for you.

Removable Retainers: Pros and Cons

Removable Retainers: Pros and Cons

  1. They are considered to be one of the more affordable options available for patients.
  2. Hawley retainers are durable and sturdy.
  3. Adjustments are easy to make and normally don’t take much time.
  4. They are easy to remove and clean.
  5. Patients can customize the acrylic piece that comes with Hawley retainers with different colors and patterns.
  1. Hawley retainers are visible.
  2. They’re easy to lose or misplace because they’re removable.
  3. Because of their durability, Hawley retainers may be uncomfortable to some patients.
  4. Because they may be uncomfortable, some individuals may be less likely to wear them  consistently.

Essix Retainers: Pros and Cons

  1. You can take an Essix retainer out and put it back in, making it easy to clean.
  2. They are basically invisible to others, making them a better option for improving self-esteem and self-confidence.
  3. They are often affordable.
  1. Essix retainers are generally considered to be more fragile than other options, so they can end up costing more in replacement or repair fees.
  2. On average, they only last about six months to a year before a replacement is needed.
  3. Some patients have difficulty speaking clearly with an Essix retainer.
  4. They are easier to warp or break from heat or stress.
  5. They are easy to misplace or lose.

Vivera Retainers: Pros and Cons

  1. Each Vivera retainer is custom-made, so it fits your teeth perfectly.
  2. They are removable and easy to clean.
  3. They’re considered to be more durable than other retainer options.
  4. They are clear, which makes them virtually invisible.
  1. Because of the way they’re made, Vivera retainers can be very expensive.
  2. Vivera retainers are made to fit very snugly to your teeth alignment, so any small shift or change may require a new retainer to be made. This can make the option even more expensive.
  3. They must be cleaned daily to prevent any staining.
  4. They are easy to misplace or lose.

How to Clean and Care For Retainers

Just like you needed to properly clean and care for your braces during treatment, you need to do the same for your retainers. Cleaning your retainers, whether they’re removable or permanent, can extend their life and improve your dental health over the course of your lifetime.

Each type of retainer requires a different type of care, including how often you should clean them and the tools you can use for optimal cleaning.

How to Clean and Care for Permanent Retainers

Because of their permanent nature, these retainers are considered more difficult to clean. It’s harder to get behind a retainer wire that’s bonded to your teeth. You’ll need to be intentional and careful with cleaning your permanent retainer and make sure to clean any small spaces and gaps between your teeth, under your retainer’s wire, and any other place that the retainer wire covers.

Here are some of our tips for cleaning and caring for your permanent retainer:

  1. Make things easier on yourself when cleaning! Don’t eat food or drink beverages that will cause plaque buildup or get stuck around or behind your retainer wire. This includes things like popcorn kernels, gummy candies, sticky foods, and seeds.
  2. Use a floss threader to reach any hard-to-reach spots behind your permanent retainer wire. This is safer than trying to force anything behind the wire. If a floss threader isn’t for you, a water flosser might be a better option.
  3. Brush your retainer wire thoroughly from different angles to ensure maximum coverage.
  4. Get regular checkups and cleanings from your dentist to monitor plaque buildup and any other potential dental issues.
cleaning retainer with toothbrush

How to Clean and Care for Hawley Retainers

Hawley retainers are easy to keep clean and they’re very durable. Use mild soap and lukewarm water every time you brush your teeth. You can also soak your Hawley retainer in a retainer solution once or twice a week as needed. Be sure to brush your retainer with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. If you need to reach deeper spots, you may use a cotton swab. Hawley retainers can last up to 10 years with proper care and maintenance — so the better you take care of it, the longer it will last.

How to Clean and Care for Essix Retainers

Essix retainers are easy to clean but need to be cleaned with a gentle hand. We recommend rinsing it with cold water every time you take it out and before you put it back in. Clean it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste. A retainer cleaner is also an acceptable option for cleaning your Essix retainer, but only use the cleaner once every three months. Please never use hot water with your Essix retainer, as heat can warp or shrink the plastic and render it unusable.

How to Clean and Care for Vivera Retainers

Vivera retainers should be cleaned on the inside and outside every time you brush your teeth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste to clean your retainer in the mornings. Rinse your Vivera retainer with lukewarm water and place it in a cup filled with either a retainer solution or diluted mouthwash. When you go to bed at night, take out your retainer, rinse it with water, and use it like normal.

Maintain Your Radiant Smile with Retainers at Santelli Orthodontics!

The retainer phase of your treatment plan is a lifelong commitment, and we’re here for you every step of the way — whether you need a consultation, a new retainer to replace a broken or misplaced one, or any repairs on your existing one.

If you’d like to discuss your retainer treatment with us, schedule a free consultation now at our office in Boca Raton or Wellington to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions About Retainers

Permanent retainers are typically worn for life. They may require repairs or replacements over the years. Ideally, removable retainers are also worn for life. Teeth will always try and shift their alignment back to their original positions, which is the last thing we want! In order to maintain the alignment achieved during your braces treatment, retainers need to be worn by following the instructions your orthodontist provides.

Typically, for removable retainers, patients are instructed to wear their removable retainers all the time except for eating and brushing for the first few months after braces are removed. After that time, most patients only wear their retainers at night.

When not worn in your mouth, retainers should be kept in the case provided to you by your orthodontist. If you lose the case, replacement ones can be purchased from our office. Please keep your retainers in a safe place, away from children and family pets and at room temperature.

No! You may at first as your mouth gets used to your new retainers. Any changes to speech are only temporary for both permanent and removable retainers.

Hawley Retainers

Hawley retainers typically last between 5 to 10 years with proper maintenance and care.

Essix Retainers

Essix retainers typically last 6 months to a year, but can last longer depending on how well you take care of them.

Vivera Retainers

Vivera retainers last anywhere from 1 to 5 years.

Permanent Retainers

Permanent, bonded retainers can last up to 20 years with proper maintenance and care.

If you lose or break your removable retainer, your orthodontist can help either fix your existing retainer or get a new retainer made for you. Depending on the type of removable retainer you have, this process will differ.

If you break your permanent retainer, contact your orthodontist straight away. Since a permanent retainer isn’t removable unless done by an orthodontist, damages or breaks can be detrimental to both the retainer as well as your teeth and gums.

Either way, don’t wait to contact your orthodontist for a repair or replacement. The longer your teeth exist without retainers, the more likely they are to shift back to their original, misaligned positions.