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We have people come in to our office from time to time asking about replacement of permanent (fixed or glued-in) retainers. Sometimes, they ask about having them removed. Sometimes, people ask if we recommend them. Other times, people demand fixed retainers for a child who refuses to wear his or her removable retainers. So, what’s the deal?
Our office recommends the placement of permanent (fixed) retainers in patients who had extreme crowding in the lower anterior (front) teeth prior to treatment. Why? These teeth are the most likely to relapse over the years and we want your treatment results to last for a lifetime! However, if the lower front teeth were not particularly crowded, other forms of retention that are not glued in are recommended. This is primarily because fixed retainers tend to come loose if a patient eats something too hard and then the teeth can move. (Yes, even if you’ve had the retainers in place for years!) Also, they require flossing underneath the wire with a floss threader to keep them clean.
If you or your child currently have a fixed (glued-in) retainer, make sure that your dentist or dental hygienist is checking it regularly. They can spot potential problems such as weakening composite (the glue that holds the retainer in place) or gingival (gum) problems that can lead to sensitivity, decay or bone-loss.
So what do we recommend? We have had a lot of success with removable spring retainers. They must be worn 8 to 12 hours a night, so they do not need to be worn to school or to work. After about 6 to 12 months of wearing these retainers every night, the teeth are stable enough to only need the retainers in place about one night a week. We recommend continuing to wear your retainers one night a week for as long as you can. This is the best way to keep your smile perfect!