1.27.2021

Fixed Vs. Removable Retainers—Which is right for you?

Once the braces come off many patients will need to continue their orthodontic treatment by wearing a retainer. The “retention phase” ensures that your teeth don’t go back to their original position. Imagine all that time (and money) spent wearing braces only to have your teeth readjust to how they previously were.

Retainers prevent your teeth from reverting back by holding them in place. Without retainers, the hard work, time and money you dedicated to having that perfect smile is wasted!

After wearing braces, patients may have to choose between a removable retainer and fixed retainer. Considering that most patients who don’t wear their retainer regularly end up back in braces again, it’s important to choose the appliance that’s just right for you. This will help you maintain that beautiful smile.

Wondering if a removable retainer or a fixed retainer is right for you? Here are the differences between the two.

Removable Retainers

A removable retainer is one that you can take out of your mouth at any time. The most common removable retainers that patients wear are Hawley retainers and Essix retainers.

The Hawley retainer is a wire retainer that adheres to a plastic mold that sits in the roof of the mouth. The wire wraps around the front of your teeth, and anchors them in place.

The Essix retainer looks like a clear aligner. It’s a transparent plastic that’s molded into the shape of your teeth. Because they’re clear, no one will know you are wearing them.

A removable retainer is one that you can take out of your mouth at any time. The most common removable retainers that patients wear are Hawley retainers and Essix retainers.

The Hawley retainer is a wire retainer that adheres to a plastic mold that sits in the roof of the mouth. The wire wraps around the front of your teeth, and anchors them in place.

The Essix retainer looks like a clear aligner. It’s a transparent plastic that’s molded into the shape of your teeth. Because they’re clear, no one will know you are wearing them.

Here are some pros and cons to wearing a removable retainer

Pros

  • Can easily be removed, therefore they are easy to clean.
  • Easier to brush and floss your teeth. (We all know that proper dental hygiene can prevent cavities and tooth decay, so this is a big plus!)
  • Essix retainers help secure dental restorations such as fillings, crowns and bridges can also help patients who grind their teeth.
  • No food restrictions since the retainers are removed when eating.

Cons

  • The responsibility of wearing the retainer as instructed falls upon the patient. Some patients may forget or not be as disciplined to consistently wear them.
  • It’s common for patients to lose their retainer as they are easily misplaced.

Permanent Retainers

The alternative to removable retainers are permanent retainers, also known as fixed or bonded retainers. A permanent retainer is a wire that is adhered to the back of your teeth, thus keeping them in place.

Although they are not as common, we do have some patients who request these retainers. Here are a few pros and cons to consider.

Pros

  • Patients remain consistent with their treatment since the retainers never come off. This minimizes the chances of your teeth reverting to their original position.
  • Since they are placed behind the teeth, no one will know you are wearing them.
  • They cannot be misplaced.

Cons

  • Permanent retainers can break. In the event that it becomes loose, you’ll need to contact your orthodontist immediately to prevent your teeth from shifting.
  • Patients must avoid hard, crunchy, sticky or gummy foods as they may break the retainer.
  • Brushing and flossing may be more difficult. We advise patients to use a floss threader while flossing, to prevent tartar buildup on permanent retainers.
  • At first, a permanent retainer may feel uncomfortable for some patients, and will take some time to get used to.

Still not sure if a removable or permanent retainer is right for you?

Let us help! At Fishbein Orthodontics, we strive to provide the best treatment for our patients. For more information about retainers, or to schedule a complimentary orthodontic evaluation, call (850) 477-1089, or start your free online consultation today.