Guest Article by Lauren Sutton

One of the first mental images that comes to mind when thinking about someone with braces is the retainer that he or she will be carrying around once they’re taken off. We’ve all heard stories about retainers getting thrown away on school lunch trays, or getting lost and needing to be replaced. While they seem cumbersome and frustrating, retainers are incredibly important for maintaining the correction that braces provide.

I wore braces from the end of 5th grade to the start of 8th grade, so approximately two and a half years. When I finally got them taken off, I couldn’t wait to explore my newfound freedom and to show off my straight set of teeth. I was scared, however, that my retainer would be just as restrictive as my braces were. I didn’t know how they worked and didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea that permanent retainers existed.

I was told by my orthodontist that I would need a removable retainer for my top set of teeth, but that I would be able to have a permanent retainer implanted for my lower set of teeth. It’s now been over 8 years since I got my permanent retainer put in, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

There are several advantages to permanent retainers. To begin with, there’s no risk of losing or misplacing it. I’ll be honest – I have no idea where my top removable retainer is. I don’t have to worry about that for my lower teeth. It’s also far less bulky than a removable retainer. The permanent retainer is merely a bar that is fixed on the backside of your teeth, and is shaped so that your teeth resist movement and stay in place. It’s not invasive, and it’s very easy to get used to. It only took me a few days before I stopped noticing it was even there. This is in contrast to a removable retainer, which makes speech difficult and isn’t nearly as comfortable in your mouth. Removable retainers have a wire that goes in front of your teeth, and also contains a hard palate that covers the roof of your mouth. It’s far more noticeable and isn’t as comfortable as a permanent retainer.

The main downside to a permanent retainer is the fact that food particles are more likely to get stuck there than a removable one. Of course, you can simply take out a removable retainer when eating, but this isn’t an option for one that has been permanently implanted. As such, you’re at an increased risk of getting cavities on the backs of those teeth that are covered with a permanent retainer. With proper flossing and brushing, this shouldn’t be a problem. I have personally never experienced a cavity that came as a result of my permanent retainer.

In short, I would recommend permanent retainers to anyone who currently has braces and is looking at options to maintain the correction of their teeth after the braces are taken off. My lower row of teeth has remained perfectly straight with a permanent retainer, whereas I have started to experience my upper row of teeth becoming crowded and crossing over again, due to the fact that I don’t wear my removable retainer religiously. I would definitely advocate for getting permanent retainers if your orthodontist feels that it is the best option for you.

If you are considering a permanent bottom retainer in 2018 or 2019, contact Orthodontics Only today. We have a professional staff that can assist you with a complimentary consultation in which you can ask questions about insurance, cost and the duration of the treatment.