Do You Have Permanent Retainers?

Updated on April 24, 2012
M.B. asks from San Francisco, CA
10 answers

I had major orthodontic work done between the ages of 15 and 17 and when my braces were removed I was fitted with permanent retainers and sent on my way. They never bothered me and I barely noticed they were there. Fast forward 10 years and some tiny spaces had opened up which my new orthodontist explained to me as the result of not being fitted with hawley (removeable retainers to wear with the permanent wires). So my perms were removed, I wore my removeables for 6 months and two weeks ago I was fitted with new permanent wires and I HATE them!!

I have never been more aware of my permanent retainers than I am now. I am trying to calm myself down and get used to them BUT the bonding is so big on the back of my front teeth that my bottom hit it and my bite is off. I've called my ortho and am going back in to have them file some of the bonding down and see if that makes things fit together better.

My goal is to have the bonding adjusted and filed down to a point that it still holds the wire in place therefore keeping the spaces from reopening but removing enough so that it doesn't feel so obnoxious in my mouth.

Here is my question..........what if I get the top perm. retainer removed and get fitted for and wear my hawley (removeable) retainer and leave my bottom permanent retainer in place (it doesn't bother me and doesn't mess with my bite)? Have any of you ever had permanent retainers and then had them removed? Have any of you only had removeable retainers? What was your success in keeping your teeth aligned and without spaces opening up?

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So What Happened?

Spoke with my ortho and I'm going back in two weeks to see what's going on. She said some of what I am feeling is normal and takes getting adjusted to, some of it is not and we need to tweak a few things.

I spent 2 years of my life, had major contraptions attached, dealt with aching bone pain and spent almost $12 grand so I can't imagine NOT wearing retainers. What would be the point of having all that done to take it off and say "Oh well" and not do the support work afterwards.

Once I get the retainer situation tweaked a bit my orthodontic work will be done and won't need maintenance for a very, very long time.

Thank you to everyone who gave me feedback on their situations, it definitely helped me narrow down what my issues were and helped me figure out better ways to phrase my questions so I got what I was asking for and needing.

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answers from San Francisco on

I had orthodontia in middle school and high school. After my braces were removed I had a permanent retainer on the bottom until I was 21-22 years old. Fast forward nearly 20 years and... my teeth have definitely moved. Now, I didn't start noticing it until about 5 years ago, but now it's really noticeable. I talked to my dentist about it when I started noticing it, and he said that just happens, and the only way to truly keep the teeth in place permanently is to have a permanent retainer.

Now the truth is that my teeth look fine. They were scary crooked prior to my orthodontia, and they are nearly perfect now in comparison. The only reason they don't look 'straight' to me is that I know what they looked like before. I'm not about to get braces again, so I've just resigned myself to living with it.

I was SUPPOSED to wear a removeable upper retainer at night only for... well, they said forever, really, but I didn't keep that up much past college. My upper teeth have moved some, but not nearly as much as lower.

Good luck deciding what to do.

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answers from Seattle on

I have a bottom perm retainer only, inside the incisors. I've had it there about 30 years and it has never been a problem for me, not even flossing.

The reason I have it is that my roots are crossed in the front, so if I did not have the retainer, my teeth would become crooked. It was important that I knew the reason so that I would not decide to remove the retainer later in life and expect the orthodontia work to stay in place.

Regardless of what route you go, be sure you understand the reason your teeth will shift or not and then proceed with that information as to whether you're a candidate for perm or removable retainers.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I had braces removed 15 years ago. Bottom retainer is permanent. Top retainer is removeable. I love it. Yes if I feel the bottom one with my tongue, I can tell it's there, but for the most part I don't know it's there and noone else does either. Top retainer I still sleep with at night, as I am a tongue thruster and push my teeth all day long when I swallow, so I NEED the retainer.

In my 15 years, I have seen no space open up in either. Granted, that wasn't my problem tobegin with. My probem was crookedness. And both the bottom permanent (glued in) retainer and the removeable top retainer have helped keep my teeth nice and purty.

My only complaint is that it's not easy to floss in that bottom section of my mouth where the permanent retainer is. I do NOT floss that section daily, as it's just too much work (I know I know. What's 2 extra minutes?) But still, that's my only complaint. I would not want permanent upper retainer, as that's where the most of my food gets stuck and where I use the most floss.

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answers from Washington DC on

I had braces when I was 10 years old and I had a permanent retainer on the bottom for about a year and a removable one for the top. I wore it for a couple years and then I just stopped. My teeth have shifted, but not that much. I would rather just get by with out it.



answers from Sacramento on

I have had both. I didn't weat my removable ones for a long time and my teeth started moving. My bottom teeth moved more than the top, so I had a permanent one put in on the bottom. It was ok, but made it hard to floss so plaque would build up on the back of my teeth. For the top I just used my removable one for a while when I noticed my teeth moving a bit. I had the permanent one removed from the bottom because one side broke off and I wanted to be able to floss again. I rarely wear the removable one, but hope that after all this time my teeth will remain relatively stable.

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

I wore braces from age 30 to 40 (20 years ago now) due to over bites, cross bites and crooked teeth Nice pie wedge at front of mouth). I was told I would need retainers for the "rest of my life" due to the extreme corrections. Because I'm also a "grinder" my nighttime retainer is also a night guard so fits around the bottom and fronts of all my top teeth and was made by my dentist. The lower one is the retainer fitted for me when the braces came off. I don't have permanent retainers. I wear them at night about 98% of the time (sometimes I just don't want to). My teeth look as perfect as the day the braces came off. And the reason for all this expense and hassle - my teeth started breaking and I was advised the mis-alignment and occlusions of my teeth were responsible, something that wasn't considered when I was younger. If you are disciplined about wearing them at night, wouldn't that be worth a try?



answers from St. Louis on

I had my braces removed 30+ years ago. Wore the removable retainer for about 5 years, sporadic for the next 5 years.....& then just threw it away. My teeth shifted every single day the retainer wasn't in. The final positioning wasn't that :)

Both of my sons were given removable retainers. My older son was finished with his at the 1 year mark. My younger son is supposed to be finished at 1 year....we'll see - that's this summer.

& here's my honest, honest opinion: I worked in the dental field for 7+ years prior to having children. Having been thru orthodontics myself, & witnessing my sons......I just don't get it as a viable solution to long-term reconstruction for many, many people! I understand & embrace the importance of a good bite. I understand the perils/pitfalls of a mal-occluded mouth.

BUT if you're going to have to wear retainers the rest of your life....then are you really gaining anything real & viable? To me, it's like the Corps of Engineers trying to rechannel a may work for a few years, but then Mother Nature is going to blast a new pathway.

& that's how I feel about orthodontics. If you're a tongue thruster, if you have dentition that won't settle into new spacing....then why bother? Why waste time/effort/lots of money....on something which will continually have to be addressed? I know that a well-adjusted bite is better in the long-run.....but at what cost?

Don't mean to rain on your parade....simply don't get long-term retainers!



answers from New York on

iv had my braces off for yeeaars.. on the bottom i have the wire thats cemented to the back of your teeth.. my bottom teeth are perfect .. for the top they gave me the removable one to wear at night.. i wore it for about a year and stopped.. my teeth are still pretty good but one has shifted and i have a little tiny space.. i wish they wouldve given me the wire on the top too it wouldve been so much better



answers from Minneapolis on

I did not get permanent retainers and my teeth have moved, especially on the bottom. I wish I had gotten the permanent ones. I had four permanent teeth pulled and wore braces for 2 1/2 years because of severe crowding, especially on the bottom. I wore the removeable top retainer as long as recommended and a bottom "permanent" one that was removed after the recommended 7 years. The bottom ones have moved and although it might not be very noticeable to others it really bothers me.


answers from Houston on

My braces were removed when I was 14/15. I was supposed to get fitted for permanent retainers, but we had a family emergency come up and I never got them.

So, now, 15+ years later, only one bottom tooth has slightly shifted, but otherwise my teeth look great. I don't care that they aren't 100% denture looking perfect and I will NEVER get permanent retainers. I had about 6 brutal years of orthodontics, 8 teeth removed for crowding and am done with them :)

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