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Your braces are coming off soon and you're faced with a confusing decision to make: What type of retainer should you choose? Fixed or removable? Does it need to be the same for top and bottom teeth? And where do invisible retainers fit into all of this? It's recommended that you follow the advice of your New York City orthodontist, but it is helpful to know the differences in advance so that you can make an informed decision.

Fixed retainer

A fixed retainer consists of a wire bonded or glued to the back side of each tooth, which cannot be removed by the patient. It is commonly used on the bottom teeth. Fixed retainers are good for patients who don't want to worry about keeping a schedule or removing the appliance before eating, but it can be difficult to floss or clean between teeth.

Removable retainer

Removable retainers are more common and easily recognizable. You've probably seen someone take his or hers out and put it into a case before eating. They generally need to be worn around the clock during the first few months after orthodontic braces are removed, and later only at night. Patients often have the option of using an invisible retainer, which is made of clear plastic. Removable retainers allow patients to brush their teeth easily. One downside of these, though, is that some patients tend not to follow their orthodontist's instructions, which will cause their teeth to shift. 

Ultimately, no matter which type of retainer you are given, it is important to wear the appliance as directed. You will get the best results and avoid needing additional treatment.

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