Is a Permanent Retainer a Solution?

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Barakat Orthodontics

Dear Dr. Barakat,

My child won’t wear his retainer, and his teeth are moving back. Can he get a “permanent” retainer on the top and bottom?

– Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned Parent,

It can be frustrating when your child doesn’t follow the directions your Orthodontist has given him. Going through the process of wearing braces and straightening teeth is a big commitment for a family, and parents want their children to enjoy that healthy smile for their entire lives. What’s important to remember, however, is that orthodontic care doesn’t end when the braces come off. Retainers are a lifelong commitment that will keep your child’s smile and bite as beautiful as the day the braces were removed.

Fixed, or bonded, retainers, commonly known as “permanent retainers,” are a thin medical grade wire that is bonded to the back of the teeth. It’s a great option for patients who needed braces to close a front-tooth gap or to straighten the lower front teeth without needing to adjust the bite of the molars or the jaw. A fixed retainer will only work to maintain the position of the teeth in the front of the mouth. It’s important to remember that it won’t work to keep the molars and other teeth in place. It’s also important to understand that a bonded retainer is not permanent. While some have been known to last as long as 20 years, the average lifespan of a fixed retainer is five years. This means that your child will eventually need to have it replaced or have removable retainers made at that time, resulting in an extra cost to you (or him).

Fixed retainers are a fantastic option for patients who are willing to take the steps necessary to care for them. Your child must be willing to brush and floss daily, using floss threaders to work around the bonded retainer. Because the fixed retainer is an ideal spot for plaque build-up, flossing is extremely important to keep it clean and avoid cavities. He must also comply with some food restrictions, as gummy, chewy and crunchy foods can damage the bonding or wires of the fixed retainer. For most kids, avoiding these foods is easy when they have their braces removed since they’ve been doing it while wearing braces.

Only your Orthodontist can decide if a fixed retainer is the best choice for your child. His treatment plan and his compliance during treatment will be factors in deciding if a fixed retainer will be a better choice than a removable one for his retention period. Your child’s Orthodontist will make sure he understands the pros and cons for both retainer options before deciding to apply a fixed retainer to his teeth.

No matter what retainer option you choose for your child, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve worked with your Orthodontist to ensure that your child has a healthy smile, a functioning bite and a foundation of lifelong oral health that will keep him smiling well into adulthood!

– Dr. Barakat


Dr. Rana Barakat, a board-certified specialist in Orthodontics, has been proudly serving Northern Virginia for 20-years! She has built her practice on a personal touch and excellent treatment. As a parent, she understands wanting the best for your children in giving them beautiful, confident smiles. She makes it a priority to ensure optimal results, but also believes that each patient’s experience during treatment is just as important as the clinical result. As the 2015-16 President of the Virginia Association of Orthodontists, Dr. Barakat’s dedication and expertise reflect why her peers continue to nominate her as a Top Dentist.

Barakat Orthodontics is located at 45745 Nokes Blvd., Ste. 175, Sterling, VA 20166. Connect with them by clicking: OnlineFacebookTwitter, and calling: (703) 433-9330. Download their free app: iTunesGoogle Play.

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