Many orthodontic patients know that braces can be bulky, painful, and challenging to clean, so they count the days until it’s time to remove them. However, orthodontic treatment does not end with brace removal; dentists often prescribe retainers because the teeth can slowly move back into their original alignment. Retainers come with their own set of problems, though: they’re unwieldy, unsightly, and prone to interfere with speech. As for removable retainers, they can be lost, broken, or forgotten.
There’s no surprise that our patients are looking for all-encompassing solutions. Here at Loudoun Orthodontics, we believe that one of the answers lies in permanent or bonded lingual retainers, a fantastic option for patients looking for a simple yet solid solution to tooth movement!
So what exactly are permanent or bonded retainers, and how do you know they are right for you?
What Is a Bonded Lingual Retainer?
Bonded lingual retainers — also called fixed retainers, permanent retainers, or lingual wires — are active orthodontic treatments consisting of a thin metal wire. They are typically attached to the lower teeth, but orthodontists can also use them to keep the top teeth aligned.
During the initial placement of a permanent retainer, this wire is attached to the front teeth’ inner side (or lingual surface) with bonding material made of a particular type of dental resin. Once the bonding material is set, the retainer is securely attached.
What Is the Purpose of a Permanent Retainer?
Permanent retainers are designed for orthodontic retention, ensuring that the teeth do not move back into their original positions after patients have removed their braces. By holding the teeth in place, they maintain the desired shape of the periodontal ligament. Orthodontists typically recommend that they remain in place for at least a year after braces are removed, although they can sometimes last much longer.
Will My Permanent Retainer Be Visible?
Since bonded lingual retainers aren’t visible from the front, they won’t impact your smile in the same way braces do. They also use minimal equipment, so you may forget that the thin wire attached to your teeth is even there!
Are Lingual Retainers Permanent?
Lingual retainers are a type of permanent retainer, but this does not mean they will stay in your mouth forever. Since they are designed to hold the teeth in their proper alignment, lingual retainers can be removed when the teeth reach their desired configuration.
Bonded lingual retainers are known as permanent retainers because, unlike removable retainers, they can only be adequately removed by an orthodontist. Therefore, they should remain in your mouth until your orthodontist determines that the risk of your periodontal ligament relapsing is low enough for them to be removed. Many orthodontists recommend a minimum of one year for treatment with fixed retainers, but they can remain in the mouth for more than a decade if properly maintained.
Are Bonded Lingual Retainers the Right Pick for Me?
The first requirement for the use of a bonded retainer is the completion of treatment with braces. Bonded retainers are not a substitute for braces. Instead, they are designed to keep the teeth from moving out of their ideal position after brace removal. Thus, everyone who has completed treatment with braces is not a candidate for fixed retainers. Some factors that may affect eligibility are age, dental health, and oral hygiene compliance.
A bonded lingual retainer might be a good choice if you find it difficult to remember when to put in or take out a removable retainer or if your routine makes it difficult to use a removable retainer regularly. Permanent retainers stay in your mouth until your teeth are fixed into the proper position, so they are ideal for patients who have trouble adhering to the schedule dictated by a removable retainer.
You may also be interested in a removable retainer if you prioritize the appearance of your teeth. Because a permanent retainer wire is attached to the back of your teeth, it is not visible from the outside of your mouth.
Bonded Retainers: Pros and Cons
There are both positive and negative aspects of bonded lingual retainers. Understanding the pros and cons can help you decide between permanent retainers and other orthodontic retainers.
Some potential downsides to fixed retainers include:
- Bonded lingual retainers require proper care and cleaning to maintain good oral health. If they are not cleaned, they can promote the accumulation of plaque.
- Proper flossing can also become challenging when permanent retainers are in place.
- Some foods might cause the wire portion of a bonded retainer to break or bend. Patients with a bonded retainer should stay away from crunchy or sticky foods.
- Some individuals may have to wear a type of removable retainer while they sleep to maintain the position of the back teeth.
However, there are also many positive aspects to permanent retainers:
- Unlike removable retainers, bonded lingual retainers cannot be misplaced or forgotten.
- Bonded retainers do not interfere with speech.
- Because it is attached to the back of the teeth, a permanent retainer is invisible.
- Because bonded retainers are designed to last for years with minimal maintenance, their overall cost is low.
How Much Do Permanent Retainers Cost?
The initial cost of bonded lingual retainers might range from $150 to $500 for one wire. If you need bonded retainers for both your upper and lower teeth, the cost might come closer to $1000. Although this may seem like a steep price, bonded retainers are designed to remain in your mouth for years and can stay intact for as long as a decade if properly maintained, lowering the costs over the long term.
The overall cost of bonded lingual retainers can vary based on how well they are cared for. If your retainer breaks, orthodontists will charge for its repair. Additionally, you may need to schedule regular checkups with your dentist to ensure that your permanent retainers are doing their job.
How Do I Clean My Bonded Retainer?
Bonded retainers require regular and careful cleaning to prevent them from harming your teeth by accumulating food scraps and plaque. Failure to clean properly can lead to a higher risk of gum disease or cavities.
Brushing and flossing are necessary for proper oral hygiene, but the presence of a permanent retainer makes them slightly more complicated. However, you can use a floss threader to reach underneath the wire and prevent the accumulation of food.
To use a floss threader, simply thread a piece of floss through the threader and run the threader between the teeth under the wire. Then gently run the wire along the sides of the tooth and repeat the process for each tooth joined to the wire. This technique should be used in conjunction with careful brushing and flossing to keep the teeth clean and healthy. A Waterpik or other device may also help clean the teeth without the risk of damaging lingual retainers.
Regular checkups with your dentist are also necessary to keep your retainer – and your teeth – clean. Your dentist should thoroughly clean your retainer and check for any issues every six months.
Keeping Your Bonded Lingual Retainer Intact
The easiest way to keep your permanent retainer intact is to watch what and how you eat. Avoid biting directly into foods with a hard, crunchy, or sticky texture, especially if you have a lingual retainer affixed to your upper teeth. Some crunchy foods that cause bonded lingual retainers to loosen include apples and carrots. Chewy foods like pizza crust can also damage permanent retainers. In general, wearers of permanent retainers should remember that their retainers can be damaged by the same kinds of foods that might damage braces.
Ready to Start Your Orthodontic Treatment in Loudoun County? Try Loudoun Orthodontics!
Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if you think that orthodontic treatment may be a solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic treatment or simply have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (703) 858-0303 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a free orthodontic consultation! Our office, located at 19465 Deerfield Ave, Suite 304, Leesburg, VA 20176, proudly serves not just Loudoun County but also the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Ashburn, Lansdowne, or Sterling, and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Virginia, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!