What Are the Pros and Cons of Permanent Retainers?

by | Feb 9, 2022 | Dental Braces, General Orthodontics, Oral Health | 0 comments

7 min reading time

Whether we like it or not, dental health is a journey that does not have a clear end. For a perfect, natural, dazzling smile, we have to constantly brush, floss, and, when necessary, undergo orthodontic treatment. Keeping our teeth healthy isn’t easy, but we can keep them healthy as efficiently as possible by maintaining basic oral hygiene and paying attention.

While basic oral hygiene is second nature, orthodontic treatment is necessary in some cases. Orthodontists will try every step of the way to avoid braces for as long as possible. However, braces become inevitable if you have overcrowded teeth or gaps between your teeth. When this happens, dental professionals recommend retainers after braces. The purpose of dental retainers is to keep teeth in their ideal position after the orthodontic treatment.

At Loudoun Orthodontics, our selection of permanent retainers can help all patients preserve their perfect, stunning smile. So let’s learn more about permanent retainers and their pros and cons!

What Is a Permanent Retainer?

There are two types of retainers: removable and fixed (permanent). As their names imply, removable retainers are either removable or clipped onto existing teeth. They can be removed for eating and brushing. On the other hand, Fixed retainers are glued to the interior surface of the teeth. Despite their name, permanent retainers can be removed by orthodontists, especially if they cause excessive plaque and tartar buildup on the surrounding teeth.

Fixed retainers, also known as “bonded retainers” or “lingual wire,” consist of a wire that is bonded onto teeth. The wire keeps your teeth in the correct position during healing after orthodontic treatment. While orthodontists say that everyone should wear fixed retainers for at least one year after braces come off, or even longer in some cases (two years), many people choose to get removable retainers instead because they’re generally more convenient and more affordable.

Who Should Get a Permanent Retainer?

In general, permanent retainers are more suitable for the lower teeth since they can be attached to the lower canines more easily. On the other hand, upper teeth have a narrow space in between, which makes them difficult to attach.

Permanent retainers are also more appropriate for people with moderate to severe underbites. In these cases, removing the retainer would most likely result in relapse.

You may also be eligible for a permanent retainer if:

  • The gap between the top or bottom teeth of your front teeth is closed.
  • You have closed the gaps between your other front teeth.
  • Your teeth will likely move after orthodontic treatment.
  • Losing teeth before treatment.
  • A tooth was extracted.
  • Before treatment, teeth were severely rotated or crowded.

Permanent Retainer Pros and Cons

Permanent retainers help prevent teeth from shifting. Over time, teeth tend to shift, so a permanent retainer is often the best solution because of its solid and long-lasting bonding material and design. This makes permanent retainers more effective than removable ones, which can be lost or misplaced easily.

However, permanent retainers may cause damage over time if their alignment is not perfect initially. This means needing more expensive replacement than standard wires would cost. They can also damage surrounding healthy teeth if they aren’t taken care of. Also, there is a chance of gum recession with permanent retainers due to the excessive pressure between wire and gums.

Pros of a Permanent Retainer

There are several reasons why permanent retainers can be an excellent choice for you:

  • There is no need to remove them during certain times.
  • Since they are fixed to your teeth, there is no chance of you losing them.
  • Permanent retainers are hidden behind the teeth, so they cannot be seen.
  • Sturdy enough to resist everyday wear and tear.
  • Permanent retainers continuously preserve your orthodontic treatment results.

Cons of a Permanent Retainer

Despite their durability and constant pressure on the teeth, permanent retainers have specific drawbacks that may cause some people to opt for removable retainers instead:

  • Attaching a permanent retainer can take up to an hour and be quite uncomfortable for patients, whereas removable retainers only require a brief, one-minute impression or 3D scan.
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth will require extra care and effort.
  • In the event of an accident such as a wire break, your oral health could be compromised.
  • Hard foods can bend or weaken wires.
  • Foods that contain specific additives, such as artificial sugar, can cause corrosion of bonding materials.  

Can You Remove a Permanent Retainer?

It is possible to remove a permanent retainer, either because you no longer need one or because you need to replace your current one. Permanent retainers eventually wear out, but they’ve been known to last for upwards of 20 years. You can only safely and effectively have your permanent retainer removed by a trained, experienced orthodontist.

Alternatives to a Permanent Retainer

You might be a candidate for other types of retainers or treatment. For example, if you need a prescription to wear your retainer, you may want to visit an orthodontist who can provide an alternative treatment plan to protect your teeth at all times. 

Speaking with an experienced orthodontist will allow them to explain these alternatives and help guide you through all phases of your orthodontic treatment from start to finish!

How Much Do Permanent Retainers Cost?

Permanent or bonded retainers may cost $150 to $500 to install or replace if lost or broken. The initial placement cost may be included in the overall cost of your braces.

While fixed retainers are an effective solution to tooth movement after orthodontic treatment, some people prefer removable retainers over fixed ones due to their convenience and flexibility. 

Although permanent retainers have benefits such as protecting against tooth shifting, they have drawbacks that can be problematic, such as being easily broken by hard foods. Also, people with permanent retainers need to be careful when using whitening products, damaging or weakening the bonding material on the retainer.

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Choose Loudoun Orthodontics for Your Orthodontic Treatment!

Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if you think retainers are the solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of retainers or 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 complimentary 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!