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Permanent Retainer: 2021 Review

The best way to avoid teeth movement after an orthodontic treatment is by using a retainer or brace. People have resorted to using the permanent retainer for this purpose. The permanent retainer is perhaps the most popular type of retainer.

A lot of questions have been asked about retainers. Among these numerous questions are –

Is a permanent retainer the best retainer option?

Do you have to wear retainers forever?

How much does it cost to get braces removed? etc.

In this article, freefitnesshub.com answers all these questions and more.

What is a Permanent Retainer?

Permanent retainer, also known as fixed retainer or bonded retainer consists of a metal bar or wire that firmly holds your teeth. A permanent retainer prevents your teeth from moving after an orthodontic treatment. Retainer generally helps prevent issues such as gapping or crowding.

Teeth with short and small roots or foundation are most likely to move. These movements causing gapping and crowding. Thus, retainers are typically bonded to the inside of the lower front teeth. This is because the root of lower front teeth is smaller and shorter than the upper teeth.

Where after orthodontic treatment patients refuse or neglect to use retainers, the teeth gradually starts to move.

Retainers are usually worn for a period of two to three years. However, a permanent retainer once fixed cannot be removed unless something goes wrong.

Analogy of the Permanent Retainer

Permanent retainers are made of metal wires and are glued to your teeth to keep the teeth from moving and causing gapping or crowding.

The permanent retainer is attached and clinically adjusted to your bite to avoid conflict in oral activities.

Orthodontists recommend Permanent retainers after braces to prevent your teeth from moving back to their original place.

Your orthodontist may also suggest one if you have difficulty adhering to their guidelines for removable retainers. But there needs to be a certain amount of tooth surface area for the bonding material to secure the retainer in place.

In many cases, orthodontists use a combination of both removable and permanent retainers for the best long-term results. But recent surveys of practicing orthodontists show that permanent retainers are becoming increasingly popular.

Removable retainers are typically used for the top teeth and permanent retainers on the lower teeth, but retainer use depends on what is best for your teeth.

Let’s get into how permanent retainers work, how they stack up against other retainers, and how to clean and maintain them to keep up your best smile.

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More About permanent retainers

Permanent retainers are also called:

  1. bonded retainers
  2. lingual wire
  3. fixed retainers

Permanent retainers are more commonly used on the teeth of the lower jaw.

The retainer is called a lingual wire because it’s glued or bonded to the back surface of your teeth. It’s easier to securely attach the bonding material to lower teeth such as the cuspids (canine teeth) for effective long-term use.

The name “permanent retainer” shows exactly what the device does: it stays on your teeth permanently to keep them from moving. You may have a permanent retainer on your teeth for the rest of your life.

Your dentist or orthodontist may remove your permanent retainer if it irritates your gums or teeth or causes too much plaque or tartar buildup on the teeth around it.

Dental Retainers Cost

A permanent, lingual or bonded retainer may cost between $150 to $500. If broken, a replacement may also cost between $150 to $500. The cost of the initial placement may be included in the overall cost of your braces.

Permanent vs. removable retainers

Benefits of Permanent Retainers

  • You don’t have to take it on and off. This makes permanent retainers much easier to keep your teeth in place after your braces come off.
  • Permanent retainers are bonded behind the teeth. Therefore, no one else knows it’s there except you.
  • It does not affect your speech flow. In other words, a permanent retainer has no effect on the way you speak. Therefore, you don’t have to get uncomfortable wearing it in public.
  • It can’t be lost easily. You can’t lose it because it’s securely attached with dental glue.
  • It’s difficult to damage from normal everyday use of your mouth.
  • It keeps your teeth in place to help keep your teeth aligned, since the retainer is always in place.

Benefits of Removable Retainers

  • They are removable. so, you can put them out at any time. The beautiful thing is that you can remove them when you’re eating or cleaning your teeth.
  • It only takes 30 seconds to 1 minute to get an impression (mold) of your mouth to make a removable retainer that will last for years.
  • You can easily clean them by soaking them in one of the many types of cleaning solution available. This is highly recommended because bacteria can build up quickly on plastic removable retainers.
  • It’s easier to floss because you can take the retainer out.
  • Removable retainers may be better for upper teeth, since the lower teeth may bite on an upper fixed retainer. This can make the retainer less secure or damage it.

A permanent retainer may seem like a great alternative to a retainer you have to put on or take off all the time if you think it may be a challenge to use one for comfort or cosmetic reasons. Both retainer types have their strengths and limitations, however.

Cons of permanent retainers

Here are some considerations and potential drawbacks of permanent retainers:

  • The procedure for attaching a permanent retainer may be long and uncomfortable. It can sometimes take up to an hour to bond a retainer to your teeth. All you have to do for a removable retainer is get a quick impression made that your orthodontist can use to fashion one that fits your mouth.
  • Brushing and flossing around a permanent retainer requires extra effort. Your risk of cavities and gum disease can increase if you don’t take the time to properly clean around your permanent retainer.
  • Having a metal object in your mouth all the time can be uncomfortable. Your tongue can rub against the wire. If the bond comes off or the wire breaks, your tongue may get irritated or scratched.
  • Eating some foods might change how effective it is. Biting into hard or tough foods, like a whole apple or a tough steak, can bend the wire out of shape. Foods high in artificial sugars or similar additives, such as soda, can also wear away at the bonding material, potentially loosening the retainer’s bond to the teeth.
  • The wire may break off or debond, requiring repair or replacement. You may have to pay a replacement fee to have a new one made.

What to do if your retainer gets bent or moves?

If your retainer gets broken or bent, don’t attempt to fix your bent or broken retainer yourself. This is because you are not an expert, and even experts would need help to fix that.

Putting too much pressure to the retainer may lead to snapping the bonding material and this cause damage to your teeth.

If your retainer got broken or bent, you should do any of the following:

  1. Book an appointment to see your orthodontist: If the retainer isn’t bothering you or injuring any other parts of your mouth, make an appointment as soon as possible with your dentist or orthodontist to have the retainer adjusted or repaired.
  2. Call your dentist or orthodontist right away. If the retainer has broken off or injured another part of your mouth, see your dentist or orthodontist right away to minimize any further damage to your teeth, mouth, or retainer.
  3. Check for emergency contact. Many dentists and orthodontists have an emergency line you can call or text in case of emergencies. Ask your dentist or orthodontist if they have one so that you can contact them for immediate help if your retainer breaks or injures you.

The danger of a bent or broken retainer is that it puts your teeth at the risk of shifting. If your permanent retainer gets broken, you should immediately call to see your doctor.

How to Your Clean Permanent Retainer and Teeth?

The permanent retainer should be cleaned daily to maintain healthy oral health. This is also important to avoid damage to the retainer, and to avoid cavities.

You should brush as you normally would. Take care to get your bristles in and out around all the crevices between the teeth so that no area gets neglected especially areas near the bonded material or behind the wire itself.

How to Make flossing with a Permanent Retainer Easier

Many people experience some challenging when flossing with a permanent retainer. This is usual.

Below are some pro tips to help you floss with your permanent retainer without much trouble.

  • Use a 6-inch piece of floss along with a floss threader to shimmy the floss between two of your front bottom teeth. Do this by using one end of your floss between your fingers and the other end in the threader.
  • When the floss is between the teeth, gently raise and lower the floss along the sides of the teeth from their tops to where they meet the gums. Don’t be too forceful or you may cut or injure your gums.
  • When you’re finished with one set of teeth, move the floss back up to the top of the teeth and slide the floss over to the next set of teeth.
  • Pull the floss down between the next set of teeth and repeat step 2 to clean between them.
  • Repeat these steps until you’ve flossed between each of the teeth that are secured by your permanent retainer.

The Bottom-line

Permanent retainers are a convenient alternative to having a removable plastic retainer, but they’re not a fit for all.

To make better choices about the retainer to use, please talk to a dentist or orthodontist.


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