What Are Permanent Retainers?

What is a Permanent Retainer, you may be wondering. Wonder no longer thanks to this article from Quest Orthodontics.

January 10, 2023

If you let Google search results pop up for "What is a permanent retainer?" you might get a bunch of crazy different responses. Hopefully, one of those responses was our article, and that's why you're here. Because we're here to explain everything you need to know about permanent retainers after braces, keep reading.

What is a Permanent Retainer?

Now, before you continue to ponder on and on and on about "what is a permanent retainer?" let us explain what it is. A permanent retainer for teeth, also known as a fixed retainer or orthodontic wire, is an appliance that orthodontists use to keep teeth in the desired position after braces are removed. This means that your mouth will have a thin metal wire glued to the back of certain teeth, and this wire will remain permanently.

Applying for a permanent retainer requires specialized tools and techniques by an experienced dentist or orthodontist. It involves bonding the metal wires to either one arch of teeth (upper or lower), both arches, or even behind just four front teeth. Depending on the type of appliance placed, you may need additional appointments for adjustments and cleaning visits every six months. The wire is usually made of stainless steel and may sometimes be combined with a clear or colored plastic archwire.

Permanent Retainer for Bottom Teeth

Most commonly, permanent retainers are placed on the bottom teeth. This is because when your mouth opens and closes with an uneven bite, it can cause your lower jaw to shift forward or backward. Avoiding any changes in your teeth's alignment may result in your orthodontist recommending a permanent retainer for the bottom teeth. Additionally, you may be asked to wear the retainer all day and night.

Permanent Retainer Pros and Cons

There are many pros and cons to wearing permanent retainers, however.

On the one hand, permanent retainers effectively ensure that your teeth remain in the desired alignment. On the other hand, these appliances may require extra maintenance and can sometimes be uncomfortable. Additionally, some people may experience irritation or ulcers due to the device being in contact with their gums and cheeks.

Read on to learn the other pros and cons related to permanent retainers.

Pros of Permanent Retainers

  • Teeth Stay Put: The most obvious benefit of a permanent retainer is that it helps keep your teeth in their desired position after treatment. This means that you don't have to worry about your teeth shifting back into an undesired alignment as time passes since the permanent retainer will remain attached and keep your smile looking perfect for years to come.
  • Speech Clarity: Another bonus is that some fixed retainers can also help improve speech clarity, especially for those who have speech problems before getting braces.
  • Low Maintenance: Another pro to permanent retainers is that they are low maintenance and typically don't require additional appointments for adjustments or cleaning. Other retainers, such as the removable type, will require regular visits to the orthodontist for adjustments and cleanings.

Cons of Permanent Retainers

  • Maintenance: One potential downside is that you must be careful and ensure the wire doesn't break or become loose. This is why regular dental visits are recommended so your dentist can check your retainer and ensure it remains in good condition.
  • Difficulty Speaking: Because the fixed retainer is usually attached to both arches of teeth, some people may experience difficulty speaking initially due to the extra bulk on their teeth. This issue will eventually resolve itself as time passes. Still, it can cause temporary frustration for those not used to having a metal appliance glued onto their teeth.
  • Oral Irritation: Additionally, due to the retainer attached to the teeth and gums, some people may experience oral irritation or ulcers when first wearing a fixed retainer. This is why it's essential to consult with your dentist before having any permanent retainer placed to ensure that you can tolerate the appliance.

Overall, when it comes to permanent retainers, there are pros and cons associated with them. Ultimately, choosing a fixed or removable retainer is up to you and your orthodontist. However, with proper maintenance, both types of retainers can be effective in keeping your teeth aligned and helping you maintain a beautiful smile for years to come.

Permanent Retainer Vs. Removable Retainer

While both types of retainers can help maintain your teeth in their desired alignment, there are key differences between permanent and removable retainers.

Permanent retainers remain glued to the back of your teeth for extended periods, whereas removable retainers can be taken out daily for cleaning. Additionally, orthodontists often prefer fixed retainers to offer more stability since they provide greater assurance that the teeth will not shift over time. On the other hand, removable retainers may be easier to adjust but require regular maintenance and hygiene to avoid the accumulation of plaque or tartar buildup.

Ultimately, it's essential to consult your orthodontist and discuss which type of retainer is best for your situation. With proper care and maintenance, both permanent and removable retainers can be incredibly effective in helping you maintain a beautiful smile for years to come.

How Much is a Permanent Retainer?

The cost of a permanent retainer can vary depending on the type of material and other factors, such as whether you need additional braces. Generally speaking, though, permanent retainers typically range from $150-$500.

Suppose you're considering getting a permanent retainer. In that case, discussing all options with your dentist beforehand is vital to make an informed decision that best suits your needs and budget.

In conclusion, you arrived at this post because you wanted to know, “what is a permanent retainer?” Hopefully, this article has answered that for you. 

Permanent retainers are an effective way to ensure that your teeth stay in their desired alignment for years to come. With proper care, these appliances can last many years and help maintain a beautiful smile. If you're considering getting a permanent retainer, discuss all options with your dentist to find the best option.

If you live near Atlanta, Georgia, and require permanent retainers, schedule your smile assessment with Quest Orthodontics today. Our doctor, Dr. Arjun Patel, is a board-certified orthodontist.

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