Which Is Best, Permanent or Removable Retainers?

Patients are always excited to reach the “finish line” of their orthodontic treatment when they get their braces off, but this isn’t exactly the end of the treatment process. While this fact is often discouraging to patients who have been eagerly waiting for their braces to come off, wearing a retainer is a small price to pay for having teeth that stay straight. When you do get your braces removed, you may get either a permanent retainer or a removable retainer. 

What Is a Permanent Retainer?

Don’t let the word “permanent” scare you off here. Permanent bonded retainers have this distinction because they aren’t removable by the wearer. Instead, this type of retainer is glued to the back of the front teeth to keep the teeth in place after braces have been removed. 

The main advantage of this type of retainer is the wearer doesn’t have to worry about keeping track of the amount of time they keep their retainer in their mouth. Unlike other types of retainers, permanent bonded retainers are worn 24/7, even during meals. This way you can’t skip out on wearing your retainer, guaranteeing your teeth won’t move out of place. 

You won’t have to worry about possibly losing your retainer since it will always be in your mouth. Plus, this type of retainer is completely hidden behind the front teeth, keeping your smile looking clean and bright. 

This type of retainer does have its drawbacks, however. The metal can become a bit irritating at times and you’ll have to be careful about what you eat. Cleaning your teeth, particularly flossing, can be a little more challenging. You can make flossing easier by using a floss threader to get around the retainer.

What Are Removable Retainers?

You may have a permanent bonded retainer for about six months to a year before being switched to a removable retainer. Or you could start out with a removable retainer without ever having a permanent one, depending on your case. There are generally two types of removable retainers:

  • Hawley Retainer: this type of retainer uses wires attached to an acrylic mold that fits to the roof of your mouth. This type of retainer is reliable and effective, but you’ll need to keep track of how long you keep it in and be sure not to lose it. While this type of retainer allows you to bite down naturally, it will also be visible on your teeth. 
  • Clear Retainer: a clear retainer fits around your teeth to keep them in place when your treatment with braces is complete. This type of retainer affords you an uncluttered smile the whole time you wear it, but some wearers may not appreciate biting down on the plastic instead of having a natural bite. 

No matter which retainer option you end up with, keeping up with wearing it the prescribed time will allow you to keep your straight new smile. While you may have to wear it for a substantial amount of time at first, this requirement will decrease to only having to wear your retainer overnight. 

To learn more about what you can expect before, during, and after orthodontic treatment, contact Austin Orthodontics to schedule a free consultation today.