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April 25, 2016

Permanent Retainers: The Good, The Bad & The Beautiful

The Good…

Research has demonstrated that teeth are more than likely to move after orthodontic treatment if retainers are not used to maintain tooth position and worn as directed.  In fact, even without ever having had orthodontic treatment, many people will experience shifting of their teeth over their lifetime.  While the use of removable retainers helps to prevent relapse, for certain people with certain occlusions, the lower front teeth may still shift long after the braces are removed.  For this reason, Dr. Peralta typically recommends a permanent retainer, or a metal wire that is bonded to the front six teeth with the same material that holds braces on teeth.  It can remain on the teeth for many years without being noticed as long as good oral hygiene practices are maintained.  It is considered to be highly effective and the most successful of all retainers.

The Bad….

Although it may sound like a perfect solution, it should be noted that there are some disadvantages to having a permanent retainer.


  • One such factor is that the area around the bar needs to be cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis. This means using your toothbrush at different angles and flossing with a floss threader daily to keep your gum tissue happy.
  • Another disadvantage is that the permanent retainer can easily break off the teeth if care is not used when biting into foods with your front teeth.  Hard, sticky and chewy foods should be avoided with this area of the mouth to prevent costly repairs to the retainer.
  • Additionally, some patients report discomfort with their tongue coming into contact with the retainers on a regular basis, but this often dissipates with time.

& The Beautiful Results…

The benefits of a permanent retainer tend to outweigh the drawbacks for most of our patients, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference and Dr. Peralta’s recommendation.  Be aware that even if you choose to have a permanent retainer, it is still very important to wear removable retainers on both the upper and lower arches to prevent orthodontic relapse! If you have any questions about retainers or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact one of our Seattle-area orthodontic offices in Burien or West Seattle.