Should You Get a Permanent Retainer Removed?

 If you have worn braces, invisible aligners or undergone other orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist may have advised you to wear a permanent retainer for as long as possible. 

While permanent retainers offer several benefits, there may be situations when you consider having them removed. Let’s look at some of the factors to consider when deciding to get a permanent retainer moved and whether to get a replacement retainer.

Benefits of keeping a permanent retainer

Long-term stability

A permanent retainer, or bonded retainer, is an orthodontic device used to maintain teeth alignment after orthodontic treatment. It consists of a thin wire bonded to the back of the teeth, providing long-term stability. Retainers help prevent relapse, which is the tendency for teeth to shift back to their original positions over time. Considering how much aligners cost, you can be sure a permanent retainer will make that investment worthwhile.


Unlike removable retainers that need to be worn consistently and may be easily misplaced or forgotten, permanent retainers are fixed in place and require no active effort on your part. They provide continuous support, allowing you to maintain the results of your orthodontic treatment without any extra hassle. There is no worry about forgetting about your removable retainer and not wearing the retainer for a month. The permanent retainer is there for good.

When should a permanent retainer be removed? 

Generally, permanent retainers must be worn indefinitely after braces and other orthodontic treatments. However, there are situations where its removal might be necessary.

Pain and discomfort

If wearing a retainer is causing significant discomfort or other health issues, it’s essential to consult your orthodontist immediately. Your orthodontist can determine if the pain is due to misalignment of the teeth, damage to the retainer, or any other underlying issue that requires attention. Your orthodontist’s expertise will help determine the best course of action to alleviate your discomfort. 

Development of an overbite

A significant change in your bite over time, such as the development of an overbite, may prompt your orthodontist to recommend removing the permanent retainer. In this case, the retainer may no longer provide adequate support and could hinder the correction of your bite. By evaluating your teeth and considering the changes, your orthodontist can determine whether removal is necessary and make any required adjustments.

Oral hygiene challenges

While permanent retainers can be convenient, they may pose challenges regarding oral hygiene. Flossing and brushing around the wires and brackets at the back of your teeth can be challenging. Food and plaque can accumulate around the retainer, leading to tooth decay, plaque buildup, gum disease and lousy breath. If you find it hard to keep your teeth clean with a permanent retainer, consider discussing its removal with your orthodontist.

Lifestyle changes

Sometimes, certain lifestyle changes may warrant the removal of a permanent retainer. For instance, engaging in certain sports or activities that require specific mouth movements, such as contact sports, or playing instruments that involve blowing or singing, can increase the risk of injury or interfere with optimal performance if a permanent retainer is in place. For such situations, discuss with your orthodontist to help determine whether retainer removal is appropriate.

Possible risks involved in removing a permanent retainer

Removing a permanent retainer comes with certain risks, particularly the potential for misalignment of your teeth. This is because it can no longer provide the necessary support to keep your teeth in their corrected positions. Consequently, without the retainer’s constant pressure, your teeth may gradually shift back to their original positions. 

Another risk associated with removing a permanent retainer is that it can cause damage to the underlying bone structure if done improperly. Because of this, it’s important to have your retainer removed only by an experienced and qualified orthodontist who can safely and correctly remove a permanent retainer.

Bottom line

Permanent retainers are just that: permanent. If things work properly, they should not need to be removed. But sometimes, issues come up unexpectedly. You should not ignore pain, discomfort, broken wires and other problems. If you need to get your permanent retainer removed or replaced, talk to your orthodontist.

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