Wearing a retainer isn’t fun, especially when you’re young and you don’t want to listen to your dentist. Consistently using your retainer, however, is a really important part of maintaining tooth alignment after adjustment. Without it, your teeth will drift out of alignment, and what’s the point of paying for braces if the work doesn’t stick?
Most people who are prescribed a retainer don’t use them consistently, which means that a lot of people experience tooth shifting years after receiving orthodontic treatment. This has turned into an issue for patients who received braces at a young age, as they’re typically less invested in the process than older clients.
Thankfully, there’s an alternative to the traditional overnight retainer: bonded retainers. Unlike the large plastic retainers many people use, bonded retainers are made out of wire and they’re permanently attached to the back of the teeth. They keep the teeth they’re attached to in position without requiring the wearer to do anything, and they’re unnoticeable (unless you’re in the dentist’s office).
If you’re considering realignment procedures and you don’t want to wear a traditional retainer, here are the pros and cons of bonded retainers:
They’re Easy to Use
Once the retainer is installed, you’re good to go. The wire is bonded to the back of your teeth with a dental adhesive, which creates a firm bond that can last indefinitely with the proper care. You can’t lose it, forget it, or accidentally throw it away; it’ll be there until you have it removed.
They Don’t Fix Everything
The biggest downside, of course, is that bonded retainers are only attached to your front teeth; they won’t keep your molars from drifting. Depending on your adjustments, a bonded retainer might not be enough to keep everything aligned.
Finding the right solution is important. Don’t be afraid of talking to your orthodontist about what will or won’t work, and be ready to schedule a follow-up appointment to manage semi-permanent choices (like bonded retainers).
Bonded retainers are a step above even clear retainers like Invisalign: you don’t take them out when you eat, and people can only see them if they’re looking into your mouth with a mirror. This is great for people who feel self-conscious about retainers.
They Aren’t Unbreakable
Since bonded retainers are glued to the back of your teeth, it’s entirely possible to break that connection by biting into a hard material. This generally happens when people use their teeth as tools, or when they try to bite into things that are too hard to be safely eaten. Your orthodontist will coach you on how recognize when a food is too hard to safely eat.
Determining Whether Bonded Retainers are Right For You
Chances are, you will need a retainer. It’s easy to imagine that your teeth will stay in place on their own, but the vast majority of orthodontic patients are prescribed a retainer of some sort. It might be a daily retainer that’s worn around the clock, a nightly retainer to keep things in check, or a bonded retainer.
Bonded retainers are great for people who don’t want the hassle of carrying a traditional retainer around with them, and for people who are willing to change how they eat hard foods and how they floss their teeth in exchange for that convenience. They aren’t perfect for everyone, and they can require follow-up visits in case they become unbonded or they need later adjustment.
Your orthodontist will be able to help you pick the right retainer, but it’s important to go into the conversation with the right information. It’s tempting to pick the easiest option every time, but you might need a different solution depending on your alignment needs.
Dr. Halsema can help you decide if a bonded retainer is right for you, and refer you to a reliable orthodontist.