Permanent Retainers vs. Removable: Pros & Cons

As the name implies, retainers help retain the shape of your smile after you’ve gone through orthodontic treatment. Some patients opt for removable retainers, while others may have permanent retainers in the form of a metal bar behind their teeth (kind of like backwards braces). Which one is better for you?

Why Do I Need a Retainer?

After orthodontic treatment, it’s not uncommon for teeth to shift back to their original place, a phenomenon known as relapsing. Retainers help keep your teeth in their new and proper places so that you don’t have to ever consider getting orthodontic treatment again.

What is a Permanent Retainer?

A permanent retainer, or bonded retainer, may be recommended by your orthodontist to keep your front or lower front six teeth in place (those teeth tend to shift the most over time).

Pros of Permanent Retainers

Permanent retainers help to subtly keep your teeth in place without having you to remember to insert or remove your retainer.

Cons of Permanent Retainers

Although these retainers certainly do the trick, know that they can break over time and will need fixing. As with braces, patients should be careful about what they eat and drink in order to avoid damage to their permanent retainer. It is also a little tougher to floss your teeth with a permanent retainer, leaving teeth susceptible to tartar buildup if you don’t use a threader to help floss around them.


What is a Removable Retainer?

Removable retainers are specifically designed for your teeth and are usually made from a clear plastic sheet that is molded to look similar to Invisalign® braces.

Pros of Removable Retainers

Removable retainers are easy to clean, can protect a wide range of teeth seamlessly, can protect other dental restorations (like crowns) if you have a tendency to grind your teeth, and are easy to wear.

Cons of Removable Retainers

Perhaps the biggest downside of removable retainers is ensuring that the patient will actually remember to wear them and care for them properly. They do require upkeep to make the most of them, and retainers can last up to 10 years if cared for properly!

Looking for a straighter smile? Stroope Orthodontics offers a range of services, from traditional braces to Invisalign, to find a solution that suits your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more about our services and which retainer option is right for you!