Four Reasons You Might Need Permanent Retainer Removal

When your days of wearing braces are finally over, you might think you're in the clear. Not so, according to Dr. Debra Cook of California-based Cook Orthodontics. Instead, you'll likely to find you have a choice between wearing removable retainers regularly at night, or having a permanent or lingual retainer bonded to the back of your teeth. Teeth can drift over time once the influence of braces goes away; wearing a retainer after treatment prevents your teeth from moving back into their old, incorrect positions.

If you opted for a bonded device, you may need to consider permanent retainer removal in the future, for any one of these reasons:

Reason #1: Damage to the Retainer

Like any other dental appliance, a permanent retainer can get damaged. Biting into hard foods, injuries to the mouth or simple wear and tear can cause wires to break or teeth to become unbounded from the device. Often, you might not realize that the retainer has detached until one or more teeth begin to move out of position. Regular dental checkups are crucial to ensure that the retainer is in good condition. If not, you may need to have it removed.

Reason #2: Buildup of Calculus on Teeth

Because the wires are attached to the back of either your upper or lower teeth with a form of cement, there's a common opportunity for calculus to build up against the surfaces. This is caused by a combination of plaque and bacteria, and according to the Mayo Clinic, it can cause damage to your teeth and gums as it hardens. You'll need to be doubly conscientious about dental hygiene while wearing a permanent retainer to avoid this problem.

Reason #3: You've Worn it for a Long Time

Although there's no specific time period for wearing a permanent retainer, it isn't entirely "permanent." Some patients have been known to wear the device for up to 20 years, and a study conducted in 2008 by North Carolina-based Stout and Booth Orthodontics showed that in the majority of cases, there were no adverse long-term effects. Dr. Jerry Dunn of Advanced Dental Care of Las Colinas recommends that patients who have invested in orthodontic treatment in their teens use fixed retainers for as long as possible, because the jaw continues to grow into their early 20s. At some point you might feel or be advised that you've worn it for long enough, and want to replace it with removable retainers to use at night.

Reason #4: Pain in Your Mouth

The purpose of the retainer is to ensure that your teeth don't continue to move or shift back into their original positions. If your orthodontic treatment has been successful, you shouldn't experience much residual movement that produces discomfort. If you experience a shift, however, the pressure could cause you to feel ongoing pain. The presence of calculus can also result in swollen, bleeding gums and bad breath. Products such as Colgate® Peroxyl® Mouth Sore Rinse and gel can provide relief quickly, though continual pain might make permanent retainer removal an attractive decision for the long term.

The most important thing about getting rid of your permanent retainer is that it must be removed by an orthodontic professional to avoid damage to your teeth and potential injury to your mouth. Your doctor will remove the bonding cement with a dental drill, ease the retainer away from your teeth and follow up by cleaning and polishing the surface of the teeth.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Top Oral Care Tips Related to ADULT ORTHODONTICS

  • Flossing – creating a flossing routine is important during orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists and hygienists may recommend interdental brushes or floss threaders to make getting in between teeth easier.

  • Brushing routine – using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush are ideal for cleaning teeth with braces. Begin brushing at a 45-degree angle at the gum line using small circular motions. Then place the toothbrush on top of the brackets, angling down to brush on top of each bracket. Finally, reposition the brush to brush the bottom of the bracket as well as the wire, angling the toothbrush up.

  • Fluoride mouthwash – after brushing and flossing, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash to help prevent cavities and white spots.

  • Mouthguards – wear a mouthguard if you play sports. Mouthguards can protect your cheeks and lips from serious cuts and can prevent damage to your braces or orthodontic appliance if you fall down or are hit in the face.