Permanent or fixed retainers have a metal wire that is cemented to your teeth.
This wire is typically smooth and solid or has a braided texture. It is adjusted to your bite to ensure your teeth do not shift or become crooked.
A fixed retainer is often recommended by orthodontists after braces to stop your teeth from moving back to their original position.1
Your orthodontist may also recommend one if you have difficulties sticking to the guidelines for removable retainers.
However, there must be a certain amount of tooth surface area for the bonding material to fix the retainer in place.
It is essential to clean your retainer daily to maintain it and protect the surrounding teeth.
Brush your teeth as you usually would, taking care to get the bristles in and out around the crevices of the teeth to ensure every area is covered.
Take extra care to clean the areas near the bonded material and behind the metal wire.
It may be more difficult to floss with a permanent retainer. Options for flossing include floss threaders or oral irrigators to remove food and plaque debris between teeth.
A permanent retainer can lead to dental problems if it is not maintained properly.
The retainer wires fix to the back of your teeth, and calculus, or tartar, can collect around the metal wires. Plaque, bacteria, and tartar build-up can damage your teeth and gums.
It is essential to practice good, regular oral hygiene and attend preventive care appointments while wearing retainers.
If your orthodontic treatment has been successful, you should not experience much movement that leads to discomfort.
However, a permanent retainer may cause some pain or discomfort. If the pain persists, your orthodontist may recommend some alternative options.
Permanent retainers cost between $150 and $500 to fix or replace. The cost of the placement may be included in the total price.
A permanent retainer can be an excellent alternative to a removable retainer. However, both retainers have their strengths and limitations.
In many cases, orthodontists use both permanent and removable retainers for the best long-term results.
Recent surveys of practicing orthodontists prove that permanent retainers are becoming particularly popular.2
A removable retainer is best used for the upper teeth. A permanent retainer typically works well for the lower teeth.
The advantages of permanent retainers include:
The disadvantages of permanent retainers include:
The advantages of removable retainers include:
The disadvantages of removable retainers include:
A permanent retainer is an excellent choice for people who would like their teeth to stay aligned without any hassle.
Once your permanent retainer is fixed in your mouth, you do not need to worry about daily retainer schedules.
It is a great option for people who don’t like the feeling of a bulky retainer in their mouth, have any sensory or special needs, or are worried about teeth shifting for any reason.
A bonded wire retainer can last for ten years or more with proper care, which is significantly longer than some other types of retainers.
If your permanent retainer breaks, a repair might be possible. A repair will cost less than a replacement.
In cases where you are wearing a broken permanent retainer that has not been fixed for a few weeks or months, you will likely notice some teeth shifting.
It can be challenging to brush and floss your teeth while wearing a permanent retainer. Try to brush your teeth as you usually would, ensuring you brush the crevices between the teeth so that no area gets neglected.
Flossing is a more significant challenge when wearing permanent retainers. However, it is not too tricky once you get the hang of it the first few times. Try not to be too forceful when flossing, or you may cut or injure your gums.
If your fixed retainer breaks, it is not usually an urgent matter. You will likely notice a loose or broken wire or a shift in one of your composite bonds. If you experience something like this, you should contact your orthodontist to have it repaired.
It is fine to wait a few days to have your permanent retainer repaired. However, you should not wait weeks or months to fix a broken permanent retainer. If you wait too long, you may experience unwanted dental movement.
As a permanent retainer is fixed into place, it should only be removed by a dental professional. If you attempt to remove a permanent retainer yourself, it could result in severe injury and damage to your teeth.
Lai, Caroline S et al. “Orthodontic retention procedures in Switzerland.” Swiss dental journal vol. 124,6 (2014): 655-61.
Pratt, Michael C et al. “Evaluation of retention protocols among members of the American Association of Orthodontists in the United States.” American journal of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics : official publication of the American Association of Orthodontists, its constituent societies, and the American Board of Orthodontics vol. 140,4 (2011)
Kartal, Yasemin, and Burçak Kaya. “Fixed Orthodontic Retainers: A Review.” Turkish journal of orthodontics vol. 32,2 (2019): 110-114. doi:10.5152/TurkJOrthod.2019.18080
Al-Moghrabi, Dalya et al. “The effects of fixed and removable orthodontic retainers: a systematic review.” Progress in orthodontics vol. 17,1 (2016): 24
Al-Jewair, Thikriat S et al. “Retention practices and factors affecting retainer choice among orthodontists in Saudi Arabia.” Saudi medical journal vol. 37,8 (2016): 895-901
Navabi, N et al. “Orthodontic treatment and the oral health-related quality of life of patients.” Journal of dentistry (Tehran, Iran) vol. 9,3 (2012): 247-54.