What Are Permanent Retainers?

Ahh, retainers: the unsung heroes of orthodontic care. Retainers enable orthodontic patients to keep their perfect smiles for life, as long as you don’t throw them out with your lunch tray. 

In general, treatments by both Invisalign and conventional braces take around 6 to 24 months to complete. Once the Invisalign trays are gone and the braces have been removed, orthodontic patients can see just how much their smiles have improved. Free from crowding and bite issues, patients can finally show off their flawless smiles and experience the numerous health benefits associated with straight teeth.

Of course, orthodontic care doesn’t stop after active treatment ends. Once a patient finishes their Invisalign treatment or loses their braces, their teeth naturally try to move back to their original positions. To keep that new smile perfectly in place, it’s essential that orthodontic patients wear retainers following active treatment. 

Here at Beverly Hills Orthodontics, we offer a variety of retainer options to meet the preferences of different patients. In the last few years, patients have been particularly interested in permanent retainers. Because permanent retainers are less obvious than conventional retainers, our patients tend to have a few common questions, including:

If you’re asking yourself the same questions, keep reading to find the answers!

So, What Are Permanent Retainers, Exactly?

Given that this article is titled, “What are Permanent Retainers?” a simple description of permanent retainers seems like a natural place to start our discussion. 

Permanent retainers—aka “bonded retainers” or “fixed retainers”—don’t have the familiar look of a Hawley or Essix retainer. Instead, permanent retainers look exactly like small wires. Made of solid or braided metal, permanent retainers are cemented to the back of teeth in order to prevent them from shifting positions. 

Compared to other retainer options, permanent retainers last much longer. For example, both Hawley and Essix Retainers need periodic replacements because of natural wear and tear. Over time, traditional retainers warp and change shape. As these retainers widen, they become less effective at keeping teeth in place, putting patients’ teeth at risk of reverting back to their original positions. 

Permanent retainers, on the other hand, do not warp with time. The metal can remain sturdy for decades, providing patients with an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” approach to orthodontic retention.

The Advantages of Permanent Retainers

As you may have already guessed from the description above, one of the biggest advantages of permanent retainers is convenience. 

In addition to outlasting Hawley and Essix retainers, permanent retainers require less care and attention than alternatives. Patients who choose permanent retainers over removable retainers enjoy a variety of benefits:

Lifelong Retention

The end of active treatment is when teeth are at the highest risk of shifting. The ligaments and fibers lying underneath the gums naturally want to pull teeth back to their original positions. To prevent movement, orthodontists recommend that patients wear retainers as much as possible for 3 to 6 months after treatment, and then only at night for the rest of their lives.

Patients with permanent retainers never have to worry about wearing an appliance for a certain amount of time. Once installed, the permanent retainer applies enough constant pressure to keep teeth in place for life.

Impossible To Lose

Removable retainers are incredibly easy to misplace. Although we always recommend that patients keep their retainers in familiar spots—and inside cases—when not in use, we can tell you from first-hand experience how easy it is to lose track of them. 

In contrast, permanent retainers are impossible to lose. The bonding material used to affix permanent retainers is strong enough to last for 20+ years, offering patients worry-free results. 

Discreet Look

Permanent retainers are bonded on the tongue side of teeth. As such, no one ever sees a permanent retainer unless the wearer directs them to take a look. 

If you love the natural aesthetic of your smile, a permanent retainer will let you keep that appearance 24 hours a day.

The Disadvantages of Permanent Retainers

Permanent retainers are convenient, discreet, and long-lasting. However, they are not entirely free from disadvantages.

One of the biggest drawbacks is that permanent retainers are more difficult to clean than conventional retainers. Cleaning a permanent retainer is comparable to cleaning your teeth when you have braces. You need to brush around the wire to keep teeth clean and floss in between the wire to prevent plaque buildup. This process can be time-consuming, which is why many permanent retainer wearers end up with significant plaque buildup. 

Permanent retainers also require a certain amount of delicacy when eating. For instance, if you bite into hard or crunchy foods without thinking about your permanent retainer, you could break it off just as you would break a wire on braces. That said, the vast majority of patients can still eat as they always have once the retainer is installed.

In short, permanent retainers do require more maintenance than other options, but many patients find this to be a fair trade-off in exchange for daily convenience and great aesthetics.

Now That You Understand Permanent Retainers, You Are Ready To Schedule Your Orthodontic Appointment!

When it comes to convenient retainer options, it’s hard to beat the permanent retainer. Bonded directly behind your teeth, permanent retainers keep teeth in place 24 hours a day. This allows patients to live their lives without worrying about wearing a retainer at night or removing—and keeping track of it—throughout the day. 

If you are about to finish your orthodontic treatment or are looking for a new retainer, Beverly Hills Orthodontics is your home for permanent retainer care. Located in Beverly Hills/Century City, Toluca Lake, Alhambra, and Downtown Los Angeles, BHO has multiple locations to make your life easier. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your retainer options!

In-Office Invisalign vs At-home Clear Aligners: What’s the Difference?

At Beverly Hills Orthodontics, we are not shy to say that we love Invisalign. Comfortable for patients and versatile enough to treat complex issues, Invisalign gives patients and physicians something to smile about.

Approved by the FDA in 1998, Invisalign introduced the world to clear aligner treatment—an orthodontic process that uses sets of transparent, removable aligners to gradually straighten misaligned teeth. When Invisalign first hit the market, many were hesitant to believe that clear aligners could successfully correct alignment issues as promised. But patients and orthodontic professionals alike quickly realized that Invisalign was the real deal, and clear aligners soared in popularity. 

In decades since then, clear aligner treatment has changed in a number of ways. For instance:

Beyond these changes, we’ve also seen the rise of at-home aligner kits

Offered by companies like SmileDirectClub, Byte, and AlignerCo, at-home aligners promise to bring orthodontics directly to the patient. Everything from impressions to aligner successions is handled in the home by the patient, with no orthodontic office visits necessary. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, there’s a good chance that it is. 

If you’re considering one of these options, exploring in-office Invisalign vs at-home clear aligners can help you choose a safe, effective treatment path.

In-Office Invisalign Vs. At-Home Clear Aligners: Treatment Possibilities

As we touched on above, clear aligner treatment has improved substantially since Invisalign hit the market in the early 2000s. Today’s aligner treatment is faster, more accessible, and capable of correcting more complex issues than older aligners could. However, some of these benefits only extend to in-office aligner treatment. 

In broad terms, clear aligner treatment alone can only treat mild-to-moderate alignment issues, such as:

But severe misalignment and significant tooth overlap require additional procedures. 

If you partner with an orthodontist like BHO’s own Dr. Monica Mada, this isn’t a problem. Dr. Madan has years of experience using Invisalign to treat all types of alignment problems. To do so, she creates custom treatment plans that include innovative procedures and hardware—something at-home clear aligner companies can’t offer. When considering in-office Invisalign vs at-home clear aligners, that makes a huge difference.

With the guidance of an orthodontist, in-office Invisalign provides a path to the perfect smile for virtually anyone.

Because of the demand for fast treatment for minor alignment issues, we have developed BHO Direct. This is a discounted program for minimal tooth movements. It’s meant to give patients an affordable option but still have the oversight of an orthodontist. This is a new and special offering for those who may feel they may be priced out of seeing an orthodontist in office.

In-Office Invisalign Vs. At-Home Clear Aligners: Reliability

If you’ve seen an at-come clear aligner commercial before, you’ve likely heard that at-home clear aligners are just as effective as Invisalign. We’re very skeptical of this claim. After all, once you take the orthodontist out of orthodontic work, things can go very wrong, very fast. 

At-home aligners are associated with numerous problems, including:

In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists has issued a consumer alert to warn against the use of at-home aligner treatment. As they point out, incorrect aligner treatment “could lead to potentially irreversible and expensive damage such as tooth and gum loss, changed bites, and other issues.”

In-office Invisalign under the guidance of an orthodontist, on the other hand, is incredibly safe and reliable. Orthodontists receive years of in-depth training to treat complex issues and can prevent many of the problems associated with clear aligner treatment, including posterior open bites [LINK TO: “Preventing a Posterior Open Bite from Invisalign: What You Need to Know” when live]. When you choose to work with an experienced orthodontist, you can be confident you’ll get the best outcome. 

In-Office Invisalign Vs. At-Home Clear Aligners: Cost

At-home clear aligner companies often taut cost as one of their biggest advantages. For example, SmileDirectClub and Byte commercials often feature seemingly incredible prices for 6 and 12-month treatment plans. Who doesn’t want an improved smile for cheap?

Unfortunately, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.

While it is true that you can save money by eliminating the orthodontist from your orthodontic treatment, this comes at a cost: no one is there for you if something goes wrong. When you enter into treatment without a doctor, you won’t have anyone available to:

When you work with a professional orthodontist, your oral health is a priority and your treatment plan is perfectly built for your personal needs. 

That’s one of the most important things to consider when looking at in-office Invisalign vs. at-home clear aligners. At-home clear aligner companies simply can’t provide the personalization and instant support provided by an orthodontist. Your health is worth the investment. 

Dr. Madan with a patient.

Have More Questions? Beverly Hills Orthodontics Has Answers

As a VIP Diamond Plus Invisalign provider, Beverly Hills Orthodontics takes clear aligner treatment seriously. Although at-home clear aligners may provide some patients with straighter smiles, they can also cause permanent damage and lackluster results. When it comes to in-office Invisalign vs. at-home clear aligners, there is simply no replacement for professional orthodontic care.

Here at BHO, we take pride in creating outstanding experiences for our patients. We provide:

From initial consultation to follow-up care, we’re with you every step of the way to ensure treatment success. 

At-home Tooth Straightening Kit vs Orthodontist: Which Is Best?

If you find yourself hiding your teeth while your friends are showing off their pearly whites, an at-home tooth straightening kit may seem like a good option to get the smile you want. After all, in the past two years, we’ve become used to doing a lot of things at home, things we never imagined would be possible—so why not this? 

But are these kits really a viable alternative to in-person care? By taking a closer look at at-home tooth straightening vs. orthodontic care, you’ll see why transforming your smile shouldn’t be a DIY project.

At-Home Tooth Straightening Kits

The introduction of clear aligners in the 1990s changed the way we think about teeth straightening and allowed people of all ages to get the smile they want. In recent years, the introduction of at-home tooth straightening kits promised to revolutionize teeth straightening once again by eliminating the need for orthodontist visits and allowing you to undergo aligner treatment in the comfort of your own home.

At first glance, at-home kits can seem very appealing. Most don’t require in-office visits before, during, or after treatment. Check-ups are completed remotely. And because treatment does not involve extensive expert oversight or in-person appointments, an at-home tooth straightening kit may cost less than orthodontic care. 

However, these kits are far from an ideal solution and come with significant downsides:

Orthodontic treatment involves the movement of biological material, which could lead to potentially irreversible and expensive damage such as tooth and gum loss, changed bites, and other issues if not done correctly. 

DeWayne B. McCamish, DDS, president of the AAO, adds:

What most people don’t understand is that moving teeth is a biological process that involves bone that dissolves and re-builds as teeth are moved into their new positions. Moving teeth is best done under the direct supervision of an orthodontist after an assessment, including complete diagnostic records.

For these reasons, the AAO advises against at-home tooth straightening kits. 

Your smile deserves more than an at-home kit. That’s why tooth straightening should always happen under the in-person guidance of an orthodontist. 

The Value of Orthodontists

If you want to transform your smile, an orthodontic practice is your biggest ally. Drawing on years of training and experience, they will:

If they determine that clear aligners are right for you, they will create an appropriate treatment plan and map out each movement in each tray. This is a very specialized process. And aligners aren’t their only tool; orthodontists use a variety of innovative methods to achieve the best results, which allows them to take on complex alignment issues and offer accelerated treatment options. Regardless of what your treatment entails, they will continuously monitor your progress, make any necessary refinements, and help you stay on track.

With an at-home tooth straightening kit, you are essentially left in charge of your own orthodontic journey, sometimes with unintended consequences. But with the care of an experienced orthodontist, you aren’t alone; you have an expert guiding you every step of the way.

At-Home Kit Orthodontist
Results Unpredictable. Treatment typically does not account for underlying conditions or issues that arise during treatment. Predictable. Treatment is designed with a holistic view of your health and progress is continuously assessed to achieve the best results.
Type of Care Absent or remote consultants; no in-person consultations. Comprehensive in-person care from start to finish.
Cost May not be covered by insurance. Covered by many insurance plans.
Scope of Treatment Minor to moderate cases only. Minor, moderate, and severe.

Get the Treatment You Deserve

Whether you have dental anxiety, want to minimize costs, or just don’t know how you’ll fit office visits into your busy schedule, an at-home tooth straightening kit can seem like a great option for finally getting the smile you want. But tooth straightening is a specialized medical service that can have a tremendous impact on your physical and emotional health. An orthodontist will ensure you get the best possible outcome so you can enjoy the results for years to come. 

At Beverly Hills Orthodontics, we offer personalized care and exceptional treatment experiences. From cutting-edge orthodontic techniques to flexible scheduling to a comfortable office environment, we make sure that every aspect of your care works for you. With our guidance, you get the treatment you truly deserve and a smile you’ll love.