Fixed vs. Removable Retainers | The Pros & Cons of Each

BracesHealth & AftercareRetainers February 3, 2020

Retainers are very important after you have completed orthodontic treatment. Your teeth have memory and have a tendency to want to continue to move after orthodontic treatment until they settle and the bone densifies around them again. When orthodontic treatment is complete at Walt Orthodontics, we offer various types of retainers. Here we will talk about Fixed vs Removable retainers and the pros and cons of both. 

Why Are Retainers Important?

Retainers are needed after orthodontic treatment to make sure your teeth do not move when your treatment is complete. If retainers are not placed or worn your teeth will move and all that work to create your beautiful smile will have been for nothing! Protect your investment, and wear retainers.

Fixed Retainers

A fixed retainer is a wire that is glued onto the “lingual” or tongue side of your front teeth and is also known as a “bonded retainer” or a “permanent retainer.” A fixed wire is typically made of stainless steel and it is placed on the backside of the teeth and custom to each patient so that you cannot see it when you talk or smile. A fixed retainer is usually only placed on the first 4-6 teeth, as these are the teeth that have the tendency to want to move back to their original place the most once orthodontic treatment is complete. Fixed retainers are meant to stay in place indefinitely.

Pros of Fixed Retainers

  1. A fixed retainer is on your teeth 24/7, permanently and indefinitely, ensuring no shifting of your front teeth after orthodontic treatment is complete.
  2. Compliance is a non-issue, as a fixed retainer cannot be taken out unless done so by a dentist or your orthodontist.
  3. A fixed retainer is cosmetically pleasing as it is glued on the back of the teeth so no one will see it when you talk or smile!

Cons of Fixed Retainers

  1. Fixed retainers can be a little tricky to keep clean and can get food stuck in them, causing more buildup, which if not cleaned properly, can cause gum or even bone disease.
  2. Flossing is more difficult with fixed retainers due to the wire glued onto your teeth, and requires special flossing tools such as floss threaders, or a water flosser.
  3. With fixed wires, you have to be aware when eating hard or crunchy foods, as they could cause the wire to break, or glue to pop off. If this happens, you should call your orthodontist right away to prevent your teeth from moving.

Removable Retainers

A removable retainer is, well, removable! There is nothing actually installed in the mouth, and they can be taken out as needed, specifically for eating and drinking anything aside from water. They are made of clear, transparent plastic and are quite inconspicuous. 

Pros of Removable Retainers

  1. With a removable retainer you can brush and floss as normal, and without having to use any special tools to keep your teeth clean aside from your toothbrush and flossing regularly.
  2. Some removable retainers can be customized with a cool design or colour!
  3. Removable retainers are clear and cosmetically pleasing – most people won’t even notice them!
  4. Removable retainers are meant to cover all of your teeth ensuring none of your teeth move after orthodontic treatment is complete.

Cons of Removable Retainers

  1. Removable retainers can easily be thrown away if you are not careful where you put them when they are taken out of your mouth. Our motto is “if it’s not in your face, it should be in the case!”
  2. With removable retainers comes great responsibility – if not compliant with wearing retainers as directed by your orthodontist, your teeth can shift.
  3. Removable retainers need to be brushed and cleaned on a daily basis, otherwise, they begin to smell and can get calcium buildup on them.
  4. Like your favourite pair of shoes, removable retainers need to be replaced as they wear down. The time it takes for them tow ear down really depends on the individual, as teeth grinding can add wear on retainers.

For more information on the types of retainers, we provide at Walt Orthodontics, visit our Retainers page to learn more.

Aftercare of Retainers

No matter what option you choose, there needs to be continual maintenance of your retainers. With having a fixed retainer, sometimes your dental cleanings need to be more frequent to help reduce build-up and any gum or bone disease that comes with not cleaning it properly. Removable retainers do need to be replaced every few years as they do wear down and require cleaning properly every single day.

Next Steps 

Just remember that over time and as you age, your teeth will always want to move back. Retainers are a lifelong commitment to keeping your smile as perfect as the day you had your braces/Invisalign removed. If you’re unsure of which retainer will be best for you, contact us today for a consultation and assessment, so we can get you the right retainer to fit for you. 

 

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