What are the benefits of a fixed retainer?

When you’re nearing the end of your orthodontic treatment, it’s time for you and your orthodontist to start discussing retainers. There are several different varieties available and it helps to understand your options. For many, a fixed retainer can help them maintain your smile for a longer period of time than a removable retainer. 

A fixed retainer is a thin piece of wire that is placed along the back or tongue-side of your teeth after braces. Fixed retainers are sometimes compared to lingual (inside)braces however, a fixed retainer is a passive wire which is bonded or glued to the back of the teeth to keep it in position.

Fixed retainers will indeed straighten your teeth. Some people won’t find them suitable for their specific treatment needs, but if you do then they will straighten your smile.

Permanent retainers to your teeth with dental cement. Usually they consist of a wire or series of lingual brackets that attach to the back of your teeth and gradually pull your teeth into place.

Because a permanent retainer is fixed between your teeth, you can’t floss between teeth as easily — but you can still do it. Floss above the retainer as normal, and thread the floss under the retainer to get closer to the gum. Those who have trouble doing this can use an apparatus like a floss threader, which can pull the floss underneath the retainer.

[When you get your retainer installed, your dentist will advise you of foods that you should be careful with. Hard candy and popcorn are common troublemakers, but gum can also be problematic. Particularly dense gum can cause wire to bend, and may be uncomfortable to eat.

You can’t lose it 

That’s right, you can’t misplace a fixed retainer because it is permanently bonded to your teeth. There’s no chance of human error (like forgetting to put it back in after every meal) so your smile is protected for even longer. 

A fixed retainer is invisible 

Because a fixed retainer is just made from a thin wired bonded to the inside row of your teeth it can’t be seen when you speak or smile. It might feel a little bit strange at first, but you’ll soon forget that it is there as your tongue will get completely familiar with it! 

Good longevity 

Generally speaking, your fixed retainer can last for many years without any major issue. However, it does require you to maintain good oral hygiene and to avoid damaging the wire by chewing super-hard or sticky foods like ice or lollies (which are not good for your teeth anyway!)

While a fixed retainer can be the best solution for some people, you might find that there are reasons you should stick to a removable retainer instead. It depends on your individual case.

Care and maintenance 

A fixed retainer will require you to adopt some new oral hygiene practices, such as a different flossing or small interdental brush technique. You will need to ensure that you’re able to effectively remove all the plaque and food debris from around your wire so that your teeth stay healthy. Your orthodontist or hygienist will show you how. 

Damage to a fixed retainer 

While it might seem sturdier than a removable retainer, your fixed retainer is definitely not indestructible! Hard or crunchy foods could potentially break the wire or pop it loose from its cement, requiring an unexpected trip to the orthodontist. Also, while it is considered ‘permanent’ depending on your habits you may damage it or wear it down over time, therefore requiring a replacement. 

There are a number of reasons you might want or need to have a fixed retainer removed. These can include repeated damage to the wire, a troublesome bite, difficulty in cleaning around it well, which can lead to a large build-up of plaque and calculus. 

If the fixed retainer is removed, a removable retainer is essential to prevent unwanted tooth movement or relapse. 

Whatever the reason, it is simple to remove but it must be done by an orthodontic professional. This will ensure it is done with the correct tools and equipment to avoid damaging your teeth and gums. Your orthodontist will also be able to remove all residue from the cement and clean up the surfaces of your teeth. 

Ask your specialist orthodontist about whether a fixed retainer is right for you or your child today. 

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