You’ve finally finished your orthodontic treatment and you’re ready to celebrate! Before pulling out the cake and streamers, however, there’s just one more decision you need to make: “Do I choose a removable or fixed retainer?” After the months or years you’ve spent in braces, this question may seem trivial, but it’s not. Teeth have the tendency to relapse into their original positions. That’s why choosing the right retainer now can save you some major headaches down the line.

Removable Retainers

Removable containers are constructed of clear plastic. The device is designed to hold all of your teeth in the desired position. Usually, orthodontists recommend wearing your removable retainer around the clock for the first few months following the conclusion of braces treatment. Then, you’ll switch to wearing them only at night for the indefinite future.

While this exact schedule may vary according to your needs, it’s essential to continue wearing your removable retainer to preserve the smile you’ve worked for! To help you weigh the benefits and drawbacks of removable retainers, we’ve outlined a list of considerations below:


  • Keeps teeth securely and completely in place when worn.
  • Easy to remove and insert as needed.
  • Cleaning is simple.
  • Protects tooth enamel from nighttime grinding.


  • Easy to misplace retainer.
  • The device can become a breeding ground for bacteria if not cleaned regularly.
  • Potential for relapse if you fail to wear the retainer as directed.
  • Must be removed for sports or eating.

Fixed Retainers

Many patients worry about maintaining the self-discipline needed to avoid relapse with a removable retainer. In response to this concern, fixed retainers are a great alternative option. Fixed retainers are bonded to the backside of your front teeth. This means they keep your teeth secure 24/7, although they won’t cover all of your teeth. If you are worried about relapsing with a removable retainer, it’s probably best to go with a fixed option. Here are some of the pros and cons of a fixed retainer, also known as a bonded or permanent retainer:


  • It stays locked in place all the time.
  • Reduced risk of damage to the device.
  • Impossible to lose the retainer.
  • Not visible to others.


  • The attachment procedure is lengthier.
  • Flossing and cleaning can be challenging.
  • The wire sits on the inside of the teeth, increasing the potential for discomfort to the tongue or inner mouth.
  • Care should be taken with particularly hard, sugary, or sticky foods, which may bend the wire out of place.
  • They don’t hold all of your teeth in position.

Should you choose a removable or fixed retainer after braces?

At the end of the day, you and your orthodontist will make the best decision for your individual situation. After all, you want to avoid having to undergo orthodontic treatment for a second time! While orthodontists sometimes recommend permanent retainers for their practicality, a removable retainer may be more suited to your lifestyle. For a more detailed breakdown of your options, speak with your dentist or orthodontist about your smile goals and needs.

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