Teeth naturally move on their own if they are not held in place, so sometimes Dr. Greg Greenberg, at RxSmile Orthodontics Frisco, recommends a permanent retainer be bonded to the back of the lower, front teeth to prevent the teeth from drifting or crowding once braces come off.
“A permanent retainer won’t straighten or improve the teeth, but it will keep the teeth from moving any more. If left unchecked, teeth will get worse over time. The bottom teeth are the smallest rooted teeth with least amount of bone supporting them, so they are the little guys on the block that get pushed around. This thin wire gives them strength in numbers by tying them all together so they don’t get pushed around. It gives them super powers!” — Dr. Greenberg.
PURPOSE OF RETAINERS
Bone and ligaments are living tissues that move slightly and respond to the forces that act upon them, ie. normal forces of biting and chewing. While braces are on the teeth, they control the forces to the teeth in order to move them into a planned direction. But just as a stretched rubber band can resume its normal size when released, after braces are removed and the tension is released, over time the periodontal ligaments can attempt to go back to where they were, pulling the teeth right back into a misaligned position.
The chances of a relapse happening are particularly strong within the first three months of having braces removed because the bony substructure around the tooth roots are still soft from the remodeling process. This is why retainers are extremely important! Their purpose is to hold the teeth in the correct alignment created by the orthodontic treatment.
PROS OF A PERMANENT RETAINER
A permanent retainer eliminates the chance of the patient forgetting to wear it! It’s cemented to the teeth so the patient doesn’t have to worry about remembering to put it in every night. It’s also invisible because it’s behind the teeth and often uses a thinner wire that’s more comfortable to wear than a removable retainer. There is a minor adjustment period getting used to feeling the wire against your tongue, but given some time, most patients eventually forget they even have one.
CONS OF A PERMANENT RETAINER
The main drawback of a permanent retainer is they make it difficult to properly clean teeth, either at home or by a professional oral hygienist. If good oral health is not maintained, cavities and other dental problems may arise from not brushing and flossing regularly. And despite the name, permanent retainers can be damaged by hard/sticky foods or even wear down over time, requiring replacement.
WHY YOU MIGHT NOT BE A CANDIDATE FOR A PERMANENT RETAINER
Our goal at RxSmile Orthodontics is to give everyone a beautiful, healthy smile and teach them how to maintain that for the rest of their life! So if you’re not that committed to your dental hygiene and restrictions on hard and sticky foods, a removable retainer might be a better option.
And because permanent retainers are only bonded to the front teeth, they can’t help keep side or back teeth aligned. If Dr. Greenberg has concerns about your other teeth moving, a permanent retainer might not be enough to maintain your orthodontic results on its own.
Regardless of the retainer, to get the best results, you must follow Dr. Greenberg’s advice pertaining to wearing the retainer, what to eat/not eat, and how to maintain good oral hygiene. If you have any questions or concerns about retainers once you get your braces off, call Dr. Greenberg at RxSmile Orthodontics Frisco at 972-335-1300.