Everything You Need to Know About Permanent Retainers


After your teeth realignment, you must wear retainers for a few months to hold your teeth in place as your jawbone heals. Usually, orthodontics recommends permanent retainers to ensure that your teeth retain their new positions.

A permanent retainer is a metal wire glued to the back of your teeth; it could be smooth and solid or have a braided texture. Unlike removable retainers, permanent retainers remain in your mouth and can only be removed by a dentist. Depending on your teeth, your doctor will recommend the best retainer for you.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of permanent retainers, the best way to maintain dental hygiene when using a permanent retainer, how permanent retainers compare with removable ones, and the cost implications of getting a permanent retainer.

Permanent Retainer vs Removable Retainer

Results Long-lasting results Varying results depending on the discipline of use
Maintenance & Hygiene Difficult to brush and floss your teeth with a permanent retainer Easier to maintain oral hygiene as you can take the retainer out of your mouth to brush or floss your teeth
Visibility Less visible More visible
Durability Highly durable difficult to break Low durability can break easily
Replacement Not required unless the retainer is damaged Needs to be replaced as it is easily broken
Cost The high initial cost will cost lesser in the long term Less expensive initially, but may need replacement, additional treatment, or follow-up appointments

Pros & Cons of a Permanent Retainer

There are good and bad aspects of all treatments. Similarly, there are some pros and cons of choosing a permanent retainer over a removable retainer. Let’s start by looking at the positives of a permanent retainer –

Here are some negatives of permanent retainers –

  1. The precision of placement is critical in a permanent retainer. And so, the process of attaching them may be long and uncomfortable.
  2. It may take extra effort to brush or floss with a permanent retainer.
  3. A permanent retainer is effectively a metal wire in your mouth. If the wire is damaged or broken, it may hurt your tongue.
  4. Eating hard foods may damage your retainer or adversely affect its functioning.
  5. Over time, your permanent retainer may go through wear and tear and require replacement.
  6. It puts you at risk for dental ailments and may compromise your dental hygiene.
  7. You may need constant check-ups with a dentist to avoid plaque and bacteria buildup.

The Best Cleaning Routine for Your Permanent Retainer

If you decide to get a permanent retainer for top teeth, bottom teeth or your entire mouth, you should thoroughly understand how to take care of it. Talk to your doctor about the best cleaning routine for your teeth when wearing a permanent retainer. You should also consider following the oral hygiene habits mentioned below –

  • Brush twice daily, and try different angles to reach all parts of your teeth despite the retainer. Remember to use gentle pressure to avoid damage.
  • Don’t forget to floss regularly. Use a flossing thread to reach the tight spaces, and clean using an up-down motion in the spaces above your retainer wire. Your doctor will be able to guide you through the process.
  • Bacteria can build up more in the smaller spaces between your teeth, so take extra care when brushing and flossing to ensure every nook and cranny is clean.
  • If a thread floss proves ineffective or difficult to use, try a water flosser.
  • Avoid eating hard foods and foods like seeds that may get stuck in the small spaces between your teeth and retainer.
  • Visit your dentist for thorough cleaning regularly to monitor plaque and bacteria.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it Safe to Use Permanent Retainers?
    Permanent retainers are perfectly safe to use. It is essential to be careful when using permanent retainers, to maintain cleanliness and prevent damage. Using retainers can only cause harm if they get bent or broken due to damage or cause gum diseases if they are left unclean for a long.
  2. What Happens if a Retainer is Damaged or Comes Off?
    If your permanent retainer gets damaged or comes off, you can get it replaced by your orthodontist. It will be an additional cost, but it is best to get your retainer replaced, or it may hurt your gums, teeth or tongue.
  3. Can a Permanent Retainer be Taken Out by an Orthodontist?
    Yes. Orthodontists have the right tools and skills to take our permanent retainers if someone no longer needs them or finds them too uncomfortable.
  4. How Long is a Permanent Retainer Worn for?
    Usually, a permanent retainer is worn for life unless the doctor decides you don’t need it anymore. But it depends on the condition of your teeth, why you were given a permanent retainer and how well your teeth can sustain without a retainer.

A permanent retainer is a better solution than removable retainers – but they may not be suitable for everyone. Visit Putnam Orthodontics in Carmel Hamlet and Briarcliff Manor, NY, whom you can consult about your retainer needs. They will help you understand the best solution for your teeth and recommend the best treatment for tooth alignment.

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Dr. Satish Pai

Dr. Satish Pai – an Ivy League trained dentist and a faculty at Columbia University, believes that a perfect smile not only makes a person look great but feel great while boosting confidence.  As the founder of Putnam Orthodontics, he is dedicated to not only creating perfect smiles for his patients but also educating people with his engaging articles about all things related to a perfect smile and oral health. Spending time with his family always brings a smile on his face. 

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