Retention is one of the most overlooked yet most important parts of your orthodontic journey. Unfortunately, moving the teeth where we want them to create a beautiful smile does not mean they will stay there on their own. Shifting is a part of the aging process just like getting wrinkles! Teeth are part of the human body and like all other aspects of your physical health, they (and their position) need lifetime maintenance and monitoring.
Healthy teeth are not meant to be glued together forever. Teeth are individuals and are meant to function independently. Dentists normally reserve splinting or joining of teeth for areas of weak bone and gums, short roots or to replace missing tooth structure. For that reason, we do not encourage the use of bonded or “permanent” retainers. Instead we advocate responsible use of removable retainers to maintain your smile.
So-called “permanent” retainers (a bonded wire behind a few of the front teeth) have come into favor due to patients’ natural desires to finish orthodontic treatment and protect their investment with minimal effort. However, they are not actually permanent and can cause other unexpected problems after treatment is complete. Bonded retainers are more difficult to adequately clean around and can be traps for plaque and calculus that lead to localized gum and bone loss. They are subject to frequent breakage which is the reason that when bonded retainers are placed it is recommended to wear a removable retainer over them anyway. Bonded retainers only hold a few teeth straight when most orthodontic treatment involves improvement of the whole dentition. They often cannot be placed on the top teeth due to the bite and therefore a top removable retainer would still be required.
If you are concerned about your retention options, we are happy to discuss them with you and are confident that we can find a solution to meet your needs!