Frankel Retainers were very common in the past. Unfortunately, they were seen as a “silver-bullet” and were then over-used on patients who didn’t really need them. With the right patient, a Frankel retainer can make a huge positive change to a smile. Most of the time, we will ask patients to wear a Frankel retainer around the house and while sleeping. We try not to have patients wear them to school anymore (as was done more in the past) unless unless we are not seeing the desired changes. We do not consider the Frankel retainer to be a good choice for a patient who is not significantly bothered by his/her smile. A patient whose upper front teeth are very prominent and who is very motivated to change his/her smile is a good candidate for this treatment option. Someone who is not bothered by his/her smile will simply not wear the retainer.
Most patients who have “early treatment” (treatment with baby teeth still present) have a second phase of treatment once the permanent teeth have all erupted; however, of the patients who have “early treatment”, those who have a Frankel retainer are the most likely to not proceed with a second phase of treatment because many of them are pleased with the smile changes achieved with just the retainer.
Interesting is that the Frankel retainer is actually the basis for modern orthodontic treatment. Light forces, working by balancing muscle-forces against the teeth, and natural development of the shape of the dental arch started with the Frankel retainer and is continued in modern orthodontics with the Damon System (which we use in our office as our standard of care).