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What is A Bonded Retainer? Is it Permanent?

At the end of orthodontic treatment, it’s time to wear a retainer! Here’s what you need to know about one of the most common types of retainers—the bonded retainer.

What is a bonded retainer? Is it permanent?

The short answer to the second question is “no.”

When your braces are removed or you wear clear aligners for the last time, you’re now entering the retention stage! The purpose of this critical stage is to support your teeth as they settle into place and remain in their beautiful new alignment. A retainer (quite literally) retains your new smile and prevents it from reverting to its original position.

There are two categories of retainers—removable retainers and bonded retainers. The bonded retainer includes a thin metal wire bonded to the back surface of your bottom or top teeth. It can be removed in the future if necessary!

However, removable retainers and bonded retainers do not share the same level of effectiveness in retaining all of your teeth. Read below.

Advantages of Wearing a Bonded Retainer

There are many differences between a bonded retainer vs. a removable one.

•Because a bonded retainer is bonded in place, you don’t have to remember to place it back in your mouth or bring your carrying case with you.

•It’s not uncommon for patients to misplace their removable retainers. Imagine visiting your favorite restaurant, placing your retainer in a napkin, and having the napkin accidentally tossed into the trash by the wait staff. Unfortunately, it’s a scenario that happens quite often.

•A bonded retainer is placed behind your teeth, therefore it is not visible.

Disadvantages of Wearing a Bonded Retainer

While there are some advantages to wearing a bonded retainer, we feel like there are more disadvantages.

•A bonded retainer requires extreme diligence when cleaning. It’s important that you use a floss threader daily to wedge the dental floss behind your retainer and between each tooth.

•Similar to wearing braces, hard foods should be avoided (or eaten cautiously) as they can damage your retainer.

•A bonded retainer is likely to break (debond from the tooth) at some point. You may not realize it has come unglued until your teeth have shifted.

•Bonded retainers only hold your front six teeth in place. What about those back teeth? Bonded retainers offer no protection from relapse of your back teeth. Therefore, wearing only a bonded retainer can cause your bite to go back to the way it was before you had orthodontic treatment.

•Only patients with impeccable oral hygiene are candidates for bonded retainers.

•If a person began orthodontic treatment with a deep bite, a bonded retainer may not be the best option to keep the bite from relapsing deep again.

•Bonded retainers are not always possible depending on the way a person’s teeth fit together. Sometimes, there just is not enough space to bond the wire.

•The sensation of wearing a bonded retainer may take a week or so to get used to. Although it’ll feel a bit different at first, after a few weeks, you’ll forget your retainer is there!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few other common questions we receive about wearing bonded retainers.

Q: If I choose a bonded retainer, how long do I have to wear it?
A: Wearing any retainer is a long-term commitment. With a bonded retainer, be sure to check it frequently to make sure it’s still intact. If it breaks, call our office as soon as possible and schedule an appointment to have it rebonded. Don’t wait days or weeks to schedule the visit. There is usually a charge to repair a bonded retainer.

Q: My bonded retainer broke. What should I do?
A: If your bonded retainer breaks, schedule a visit with us soon as possible or give us a call. Don’t wait days or weeks to schedule the visit. We want to prevent your teeth from shifting back to their original position!

Still wondering if a bonded retainer is the better choice?

In order to truly retain the position of all of your teeth and your bite following orthodontic treatment, Spillers Orthodontics recommends removable, plastic retainers, also known as Essix retainers. These fit snugly around every single tooth (not just the front six) and provide comprehensive retention for all of the teeth. They provide the best protection against relapse. The Invisalign® brand of removable retainers, Vivera, is another solid choice.

For patients who do choose bonded retainers, we recommend that they also wear removable retainers at night to maintain the position all of their teeth, not just the lower front six.

If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We’re here for you. If you’re ready for your complimentary consultation with one of our friendly, incredibly experienced orthodontists in Warner Robins and Macon, we encourage you to request one today.