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A permanent or fixed retainer is a metal wire that is cemented to your teeth. This wire is typically smooth and solid or has a braided texture.
After finishing orthodontic treatment with clear aligners or braces, an orthodontist will often recommend a fixed retainer. The retainer ensures your teeth do not shift or return to their original position.1
Your orthodontist may also recommend one if you have difficulties wearing removable retainers regularly. However, the bonding material must have a certain amount of natural tooth surface to fix the retainer in place.
Permanent retainers cost between $150 and $500 to fix or replace. Fortunately, permanent retainers don’t often need to be replaced.
The placement cost may be included in the total price of your orthodontic treatment. Some dental insurance plans may also cover the cost of permanent retainers.
A permanent retainer can be an excellent alternative to a removable retainer. However, both retainers have their strengths and limitations.
Orthodontists often use permanent and removable retainers to prevent relapse. Recent surveys of practicing orthodontists prove that permanent retainers are becoming particularly popular.2
A removable retainer is usually made for the upper teeth. A permanent retainer is usually placed on the back surfaces of the lower front 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:
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 cleaned.
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 and oral irrigators to remove food and plaque debris between teeth.
An improperly maintained permanent retainer can lead to dental problems, including an accumulation of:
Practicing regular oral hygiene and attending preventive care appointments while wearing retainers is essential to prevent cavities and gum disease.
If your orthodontic treatment has been successful, your permanent retainer should not cause tooth movement or discomfort. However, a permanent retainer may cause some initial pain or discomfort as you get used to it. If the pain persists, your orthodontist may recommend some alternative options.
A permanent retainer is an excellent choice for people who want their teeth to stay aligned without the daily hassle of putting it on and taking it off.
A permanent retainer is also a great option for people who don’t like the feeling of a bulky retainer in their mouth or have particular sensory or special needs.
A bonded wire retainer can last 10 years or more with proper care. This 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 wear a broken permanent retainer that has not been fixed for a few weeks or months, your teeth may shift.
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. 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 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.
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