Permanent vs Removable Retainers: A Complete Guide


After your braces are removed, you’ll be able to show off your new smile. One consideration is whether you want a fixed or removable retainer to go with your new smile. Here are the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is best for you. 

What is a Retainer?

You may have believed that your orthodontic therapy is complete after your braces are removed. While you will likely need to see the orthodontist less regularly in the future, it is critical to maintain all of the improvements made to your mouth. That is where retainers enter the picture.

Without a retainer, particularly during the first several months, your teeth can rapidly slip back out of alignment. A retainer is a straightforward orthodontic device that is custom-fit to your teeth and assists in preventing this from happening.

Read More: How Teeth Retainers Work

Permanent Retainers

These are often called bonded or fixed retainers. 

A fixed retainer is a metal wire attached to the lingual or tongue side of your front teeth. It is sometimes referred to as a bonded retainer or a permanent retainer. A fixed wire is generally constructed of stainless steel and is custom-fit to each patient’s teeth so that it is not visible when speaking or smiling. A fixed retainer is typically placed on the front 4-6 teeth, as these are the teeth that most desire to return to their natural position following orthodontic treatment. Fixed retainers are intended to be permanent.


  • Permanent retainers are optimal in situations when relapse is most likely.
  • Permanent retainers do not need to be removed before meals or other activities, saving daily removal and reinsertion time.


  • Permanent retainers can take up to an hour to attach and can be rather painful for patients, whereas detachable retainers require only a quick, one-minute impression or 3D scan.
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth with extra attention and effort will be necessary.
  • Your oral health may be jeopardized in the event of an accident, such as a wire break.
  • Brittle foods can bend or weaken wires.
  • Certain foods, such as artificial sugar, can corrode bonding materials.

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Removable Retainers

Removable retainers are constructed of a transparent plastic sheet shaped to fit your teeth properly. They have a firm grip on your teeth, which assists them in preventing the teeth from returning to their natural position. However, retainers need a commitment. A detachable invisible retainer should be worn 24 hours a day, seven days a week for two to three months. After that, just at night for the remainder of your life. Even if you take good care of your teeth, you will need to wear removable retainers for at least ten years following treatment. This ensures that you retain the grin for which you have worked so diligently.


  • Clear retainers are nearly unnoticeable and extremely comfortable to wear.
  • You do not have to wear them all day; merely at night will suffice.
  • Clear trays completely encase the teeth, firmly anchoring them in their new position.
  • Because they are removable, they are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Removable retainers assist in maintaining good oral hygiene because they may be removed before brushing and flossing your teeth.
  • It is ideal for individuals receiving dental restorations such as fillings and crowns, as it prevents the teeth from clenching and grinding.
  • After treatment, teeth whitening is simple by using clear retainers. On the interior of the retainers, patients can put bleaching gel and utilize them as a bleaching tray.


  • Removable retainers must be removed before participating in sports or eating. This can become quite chaotic at times.
  • Patients frequently lose them.

Related: Types of Retainers You Should Know About

Why Are Retainers Important?

Unfortunately, braces do not guarantee permanent results. Indeed, teeth naturally tend to return to their original position once the pressures that held them in place have been released. When you do not wear a retainer, the teeth are likely to quickly return to their pre-braces misalignment after braces are removed. Teeth shifting and regressing tend to lessen over time as they become more solidly established, but this can last 18 months. A retainer assists in maintaining the alignment of the teeth and ensuring the greatest possible long-term benefits for the appearance of your smile. Retainers must be worn as frequently as possible during the first three to six months after braces are removed, but it will almost certainly require long-term use to prevent regression.

Contact Kumra Orthodontics to learn more about permanent retainer

Finally, it’s good to discuss your options with your orthodontist, who can provide recommendations based on the work accomplished with braces and your lifestyle. Many orthodontists prescribe a mix of the two, for example, a permanent retainer on the lower teeth and a removable retainer on the upper teeth, which can explain why this is the best option for you. As always, the final decision is entirely up to you; thus, feel free to inquire about all of your possibilities.