A fixed retainer is also known as a permanent retainer. The word permanent retainer is a misnomer. In fact nothing in life, medicine or dentistry is permanent. Fixed retainers after orthodontic treatment are popular for orthodontist’s to place and for patients to protect the positions of their newly straightened teeth. These fixed retainers are back up retainers to the removable retainer that patients should wear every night for the rest of their lives.
Fixed retainers can fail to hold the teeth perfectly straight for life along because of breakage and failure. The materials used to form fixed retainers can vary, most are are soft and thin. They are soft and malleable to allow for correct adaptation to the teeth, they also must allow the teeth to move slightly in the PDL ligament to keep the bone around the teeth strong. They are thin for esthetics, comfort and to make oral hygiene easy. Like all soft thin materials they can fray, or snap completely at the points between teeth. Should this happen the entire fixed retainer must be replaced.
Fixed retainers can also become unglued to the teeth. This usually happens with eating or during a dental cleaning appointment. Because fixed retainers are placed on top of teeth and not drilled into teeth sometimes they can be griped iatrogenically. The bond can then be broken with a movement removing the glue from the tooth and/or the fixed retainer wire. Often times this will feel strange to the patient with pressure on their teeth and may feel like it’s cutting the tongue. If not repaired or replaced quickly the teeth will shift and move.
Fixed retainers are made out of various metal alloys. Like all metal that are subject to stress they can stretch over time. If the retainer stretches some spaces and small movement can occur. This stretching over time is akin to a penny getting squished on a railroad track and flattens out. The mouth is like the train with all chewing and talking over time the fixed retainer stretches. Although the fixed retainer didn’t have a catastrophic failure it at some point stopped holding the teeth perfectly this causing relapse.
The final failure that can impact your permanent retainer is in relation to oral hygiene. If you fail to brush and floss your dentist may ask for the fixed retainer to be removed. It is also possible to get cavities under the retainer if the teeth aren’t well maintained. Visiting the dentist for regular cleanings every six months with a fixed retainer in your mouth is imperative for maintaining your oral health as well as your alignment.
You can assist in maintaining your retainers by looking and feeling them every night for a lifetime and note any relapse you might have. If your teeth are shifting best to have it addressed right away with your orthodontist. Wear your removable retainers at night to keep your teeth from shifting and seek a replacement or repair appointment at your orthodontist. Ultimately you the patient are in control of maintaining your oral health and post braces smile.
Dr Susan Podray wants to help you maintain your straight smile for life. Serenity orthodontics offers patients an in office retainer for life insurance program. Ask us about this program in one of our Cumming, Milton, Canton, Sugar Hill and Braselton Braces locations. Smile consultations are complimentary and our office prides itself on same day appointments and availability for Saturday appointments. To connect with Dr Susan Podray directly like Serenity Orthodontics Facebook page and send her a message.