If you’ve spent months or even years working to align your teeth through orthodonture, you know how important it is to maintain your straightened smile. It’s likely your dentist has recommended the use of a permanent or plastic retainer to help keep your teeth in their proper place. Which should you choose? Let’s talk about the advantages of both, as well as some of their drawbacks.

 

Permanent Retainers

Permanent retainers are bonded to the back of your teeth and are a great idea if you don’t want to have to think about your retainer again. If you are one of those people who have a hard time remembering to do certain daily tasks like take vitamins or find your keys, remembering to put your retainer in every day might prove a challenge. 

Advantages of Permanent Retainers

The biggest advantage of permanent retainers is that you’ll never forget to put it in your mouth because it’s already there. Permanent retainers give better long term results for this reason. It’s always working behind the scenes to keep your teeth from roaming around. You might even forget it’s there. 

 

Drawbacks of Permanent Retainers

The main drawback with a permanent retainer from a dentist’s perspective is that they are more difficult for the patient to clean around when brushing at home. This can lead to plaque buildup and long term consequences if you aren’t diligent about flossing and attending regularly scheduled dental cleanings. 

If you have a permanent retainer, your dentist might recommend flossing “threads” that help you get the floss to those easily neglected areas, or that you start using a Waterpik — a machine that shoots a small, lightly pressurized stream of water around teeth to reach areas flossing can’t. 

If you decide a permanent retainer is the right choice for you, discuss with your dentist some cleaning options that will help you keep your teeth healthy as well as straight.

 

Plastic Retainers

If you’re not ready to commit to a permanent retainer, it’s possible that a plastic and removable retainer would be a better option. Plastic retainers are shaped to fit over your teeth or against the roof of your mouth with wires that hold the retainer and your teeth in place. It might be uncomfortable at first, but with regular use you can build the habit of wearing it. 

 

Advantages of Plastic Retainers

Plastic retainers usually don’t have to be worn all the time. Some just have to be worn overnight or during the day except when eating or exercising. Retainers that are clear are very subtle and practically unnoticeable when worn. Eventually, the plastic will wear out and can age and discolor, so plastic retainers need to be replaced every so often. 

 

Drawbacks of Plastic Retainers

The biggest problem with removable retainers is that patients will forget to use them frequently, or misplace them altogether. If you don’t establish a regular habit of putting in your retainer, your teeth may start to move. If they move enough your retainer may no longer fit comfortably and you will have to be fitted for a new one by your dentist. 

Fortunately, if lost or ill-fitting, they can be replaced. Unlike permanent retainers, plastic ones don’t prohibit brushing and flossing so it’s easier to keep teeth clean. Retainers can also be freshened with a thorough soak and scrub. 

 

Permanent vs. Plastic Retainers

The choice between permanent or plastic depends on you. Will you remember to wear your retainer on a regular basis? Or would it be easier to have it attached and not worry about it? Are you committed to keeping your teeth clean and flossing around a wire or would you rather be able to remove a retainer to brush your teeth? 

Some dentists may recommend a combination of a plastic and a permanent retainer. Permanent retainers are often attached behind the bottom front teeth because they are the most likely to move. At the same time, an upper removable retainer might be used overnight, to help make sure teeth stay in alignment.

Whichever option you and your dentist choose, you will likely need to change some habits to keep your smile clean and healthy. After you worked so hard to achieve a beautiful smile, you need to protect it. 

If you have concerns that your retainer isn’t working for you, stop into Creason, Weber & Mountford to make sure your teeth get the proper care you need, and to ask the dentists if it’s time to update or replace your retainer. Request an appointment or call 616-842-0822 today.