Advantages and Disadvantages of Permanent Retainers


Permanent retainers are also called fixed retainers. They are made of metal wire, which is glued to your teeth. This wire is solid and smooth and has a braided texture. Dentists attach them to your teeth and adjust to your bite for the purpose of keeping your teeth from becoming crooked or shifting. Retainers are normally recommended after braces in order to prevent your teeth from shifting to its original place.

In addition to that, experienced cosmetic dentists might also suggest removable retainers if a person has difficulties with adhering to their guidelines. You need to have a certain amount of tooth surface area for the bonding material to secure the retainer in place. There are numerous cases where dentists combine both permanent and removable retainers in order to achieve the best long-term outcomes. However, recent studies show that permanent retainers are more effective in the long-run.

Permanent retainers are mostly used on the lower teeth, while removable ones are used on the top teeth. Although, your teeth always dictate the retainer use. The following sections of this article depict the key things that every person should know about permanent retainers.

What are permanent retainers?

Permanent retainers are also called bonded retainers, fixed retainers and lingual wire. As was mentioned above, they are mostly used on lower teeth. These retainers are normally bonded or glued to the back of the surface of the teeth. Permanent retainers stay on your teeth permanently in order to prevent them from shifting.

Some people have fixed retainers on their teeth for the rest of their life. Your dentist can remove your fixed retainers if they irritate your teeth or gums or if they cause too much tartar buildup or plaque on the teeth around it.

What are the advantages of permanent retainers?

Experienced cosmetic dentists have prepared a list of all the pros of fixed retainers and they are as follows:

  • It is much easier to keep your teeth in place after your braces are removed as you do not have to take it on and and off
  • They are not visible, thus, no one knows it is there except you. This is due to the fact that they are bonded behind your teeth
  • Permanent retainers do not affect the way your speak, thus, there is no need to feel self-conscious about wearing it in public
  • There is no chance of loosing them as they are securely attached to your teeth
  • It is almost impossible to damage them from everyday use of the mouth
  • Due to the fact that the retained is always in place, your teeth stay in place, which helps them to be aligned

What are the disadvantages of permanent retainers?

Just like anything else, fixed retainers also have a number of cons and they are shown below:

  • The procedure of placing a fixed retainer might be relatively uncomfortable and long. The whole procedure normally takes around one hour
  • You will have to dedicate additional time and effort to flossing and brushing your teeth around a fixed retainer. Dentists emphasize on the fact that the risk of gum disease and cavities increases if a person does not practice proper dental hygiene
  • In the very beginning it might be extremely uncomfortable to have a metal object in your mouth. You tongue can rub against the wire and if the bond comes off or the wire breaks, your tongue might get scratched or irritated
  • It might be needed to change your eating habits. This is due to the fact that tough or hard foods can potentially bond the wire out of shape. The bonding material can be also worn away if consuming foods that are high in artificial sugars. It might cause loosening of the retainer’s bond to the teeth
  • Your wire might potentially debond or break, therefore requiring either repair or replacement. As a result you will get exposed to a replacement fee to have a new one done

What should be done if the retainer moves or gets bent?

Dentists do not recommend fixing the retainer if it moves or gets bent. If you apply too much pressure to the retainer you can snap the wire or bonding material and potentially damage your teeth. You should also keep in mind that if your retainer moves it will not be able to keep your teeth in place. Follow the following recommendations if you notice your retainer moving:

  • The first thing you should do if your retainer moves or gets bent is to make an appointment with your dentist. Do not wait until the point when the retainer will bother you or injury other parts of the mouth
  • If your retainer already causes problems to other parts of the mouth you should immediately check for emergency in order to have it fixed as soon as possible. This has to be done for the purpose of avoiding any severe damage to other parts of your mouth.

How to clean your permanent retainers and teeth?

As was mentioned above, it is highly important to practice proper oral hygiene and clean the retainer on a regular basis. This should be done in order to protect the teeth around the area. There is no need to change your brushing technique. You want to make sure that you get your bristles in and out around all the crevices between the teeth so that no area gets neglected. Make sure you brush properly behind the wire itself and near the bonded material.

When it comes to flossing, it might be a challenge with permanent retainers. However, it might be difficult only in the very beginning. Specialists recommend using a 6-inch piece of floss along with a floss threader in order to shimmy the floss between two of your front bottom teeth. You should take one end of the floss between the fingers and the other end in the threader. It is advised to gently raise and lower the floss when the floss is between the teeth. There is no need to apply too much pressure as you might injure or cut your gums.

When you have completed flossing one set of teeth, you should move the floss back to the top of the teeth and slide the floss over to the next set of teeth. Keep repeating the same steps until you have flossed between each teeth that are secured by your permanent retainer. The aforementioned threaders can be found online as well as in stores.

To summarize the aforementioned, it can be said that permanent or fixed retainers are a great alternative to plastic retainer. However, they are not for everyone. The price of this type of retainers typically varies between $150 and $500. Although, this is not the final cost as there is also a cost of placing them, which varies depending on the location and the clinic.

You can always schedule a meeting with an experienced cosmetic dentist who will help you decide on the type of retainers for you. This decision will be normally based on your personal needs and goals. Your dentist can also tell you whether you are a great candidate for permanent retainers as they are not for everyone.


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