How to fix bonded wire retainers

Updated November 21, 2016

In dentistry, bonded wire retainers serve two functions: supporting and maintaining position of teeth. In orthodontics -- the movement of teeth by using braces -- some patients opt for aesthetic, permanent retainers instead of conventional removable retainers. In periodontics -- the care of gums and supporting bone -- bonded wire retainers double as splints, securing teeth loosened by gum disease or injury while treatment to increase bone support is completed. The retainers, made from dental wire, fit behind and bond directly to teeth with composite resin filling material. Only dentists, orthodontists or periodontists are qualified to place, maintain or repair a bonded wire retainer.

Make an appointment with your treating orthodontist or periodontist. A general practice dentist is also capable of repairing a retainer, but it's best to return to the expert who placed it originally.

Put the bonded wire retainer in a coin envelope or a resealable bag to take with you to the dental appointment.

Attend the dental appointment made to repair the bonded wire retainer. The professional will determine whether the retainer can be re-bonded or needs to be replaced entirely. Most often it can be re-bonded.

Allow the professional to re-bond the retainer. This procedure does not require the use of anesthetic but does require a high speed dental drill to remove the old bonding material from the back of the teeth. Once the bonding material has been removed, the backs of the teeth will feel rough to the tongue. Do not worry about this. After re-bonding, it will once again feel smooth.

Let the dentist proceed with the next step of the repair -- acid etching of the teeth to be bonded. The acid etch opens the pores of the enamel on the backs of the teeth, preparing them to receive the bond. It is imperative that saliva not contaminate the etch prior to application of the bonding agent. The professional will isolate the teeth with cotton.

Allow the professional and the assistant to rinse the etched areas after the appropriate amount of time has passed. Do not try to spit or touch the teeth with the tongue as this contaminates the etch. Let the assistant know if you need additional suction. Etch is acidic and can tend to taste bitter.

Close your eyes while the wire is bonded back to the teeth. The dentist will first apply a coat of bonding solution with a brush. Bonding agent cures (hardens) with an ultraviolet light source that can harm eyes if looked at directly. The composite resin is then applied to each tooth with a composite gun. Composite is a putty-like material that stays pliable until cured with ultraviolet light. The professional will place the wire along the backs of the teeth and use more composite if needed. He or she will then cure the composite with the ultraviolet light source.

Allow the professional to complete the procedure by smoothing and polishing the composite bond and checking the bite to make sure the retainer does not interfere with biting or chewing. He or she will check this with articulating (carbon) paper, adjusting the areas that are darker blue than others.

Use the cup of water and the cuspidor offered by the dental assistant to rinse your mouth of any residue from the dental materials used in the procedure.

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