If you’re ready to get your braces off or about to finish your aligner treatment, you’ve worked very hard to achieve a beautiful smile. To maintain these great results, you and your orthodontist will discuss retainer options. Often, a fixed lingual retainer is the preferred method to avoid relapse, and we’ll take a look at the reasons why. Let’s dive into the benefits of a fixed lingual retainer, how it works, and our approach at ALTA SMILES.
What Is a Fixed Lingual Retainer?
A fixed retainer is bonded (or glued) to the lingual (tongue side) of the teeth. A thin wire is affixed to the first 6 (anterior) teeth of both the upper and lower arches. These are the teeth most likely to shift to their original position after treatment. A lingual retainer is considered semi-permanent since it’s bonded but can be removed. We recommend it for at least one year, but it can remain for up to 10 years.
Lingual retainers have gained in popularity in recent years, but, surprisingly, many orthodontic offices still only offer removable retainers. At ALTA SMILES, we want you to retain your beautiful smile long after your braces come off (or you are finished with your aligners). We believe that fixed retention can help achieve that goal for the long-term. They are also durable, as fixed lingual retainers have the longest survival time compared to Hawley and vacuum-formed retainers (such as Essix).
What Are the Benefits of a Fixed Lingual Retainer?
One of the biggest benefits of a fixed retainer is that it stays in your mouth 24/7. Since it can’t be removed, there’s no chance of losing it. You don’t have to think about it, but you can rest assured knowing it’s always working for you to keep your teeth in position.
Also, the thin, flexible wire is comfortable and won’t alter speech or cause soft tissue injuries. With its placement behind the teeth, this option is very discreet and unnoticeable.
A fixed lingual retainer makes retreatment very unlikely, potentially saving you thousands of dollars for additional orthodontic treatment in the future.
Are there Downsides to a Fixed Lingual Retainer?
Fixed retainers can be a little tricky to clean, but no more than what is required for braces. Food can get stuck in this retainer, which can lead to plaque and tartar. However, if you performed proper hygiene and used floss threaders with braces, it’s the same approach. Thoroughly clean the inside of your teeth as well as the wires. Maintain regular cleanings and dental check-ups every six months. Avoiding crunchy or hard foods that can possibly damage the wire will help make them last.
Dual Retention: Two Is Better Than One
A fixed lingual retainer can benefit patients of all ages, and it’s our first option for retention at ALTA SMILES locations. But we also believe there are advantages to removable retainers. It’s the reason we typically provide an Essix retainer to wear at night as well. Removable Essix retainers are clear trays (similar to aligners) fitted to your teeth to keep them in place. The Essix retainer also serves to keep position on your posterior teeth which are not bonded with the fixed retainer. Typically, after 12 months, you can opt to continue with the dual system or continue wearing only the Essix retainer at night. We’re also happy to discuss other retainer options that may work for you.
What Other Questions Do You Have About Fixed Lingual Retainers?
We’re here to answer your questions and address any concerns about your treatment and retention options. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today!