What causes failure of fixed orthodontic retention? – systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical studies

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Background: Orthodontic retention aims to maintain optimal teeth positions after active treatment. The stability is affected by numerous factors, including patients’ individual features, thus retention should be adjusted in the most optimal way. Bonding a retainer makes retention less dependent on patient’s compliance. Questions arise: What wire or fiber splint type provides the best treatment stability? What materials should be used to bond the wire or fiber splint? Should be the bonding procedure be direct or indirect? The aim of the study is to assess and synthesize available controlled trials investigating failures of fixed retainers. Methods: Literature searches of free text and MeSH terms were performed in Scopus, Web of Science, Embase and PubMed Central in order to find studies, referring to failures of fixed retention (12th February 2021). The keywords were: (“orthodontic retainers AND failure AND wire”). The framework of this systematic review according to PICO was: Population: orthodontic patients; Intervention: fixed orthodontic retainer bonding; Comparison: Different protocols of fixed orthodontic retention applied; Outcomes: failure rate, survival rate. Three different specific scales from the Cochrane Collaboration Handbook were used, according to each study type. Additionally, a meta-analysis was conducted to compare the effectiveness of retention using fiber reinforced composite and multistranded steel wire. Results: The search identified 177 potential articles: 114 from PubMed, 41 from Scopus, 20 from Web of Science and 2 from Embase. After excluding studies inconsistent with selection criteria, 21 studies were included and subjected to qualitative analysis. The main outcome investigated was failure rate. This systematic review has some potential limitations due to the heterogeneity of design between included studies. Conclusions: No retainer is proved to guarantee a perfect stability of dental alignment. The retainer should be bonded to all adherent teeth, preferably with additional use of bonding resin. No wire or fiber splint present superior characteristics concerning failure rate. Fiber reinforced composite retention is more sensitive to operator skills, and with imperfect bonding technique, failure rate is much higher. During the first 6 months after bonding retainer the patient should be under frequent control. The study protocol was registered in PROSPERO database with the number CRD42021233406.




Jedliński, M., Grocholewicz, K., Mazur, M., & Janiszewska-Olszowska, J. (2021, December 1). What causes failure of fixed orthodontic retention? – systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical studies. Head and Face Medicine. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13005-021-00281-3

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