A survey of general dentists regarding orthodontic retention procedures

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To explore 1. how Swiss general dentists deal with complications associated with fixed orthodontic retainers, 2. collaboration between general dentists and orthodontists with regards to the organization and responsibility for long-term follow-up of orthodontic retainers, and 3. the need for standardized clinical guidelines regarding orthodontic retention.


A structured questionnaire was sent to 201 randomly selected dentists. They were asked about their experience with retainers, opinions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of different types of retainers, responsibility for patients wearing bonded retention and the communication between orthodontists and general dentists. Statistical analysis was carried out using SPSS software.


The response rate was 61 per cent. About 55 per cent of the respondents had had experience with bonding fixed retainers and even more were familiar with their follow-up and repair. In case of complications, dentists usually contacted orthodontists according to the following rule: the more severe the complication, the more intense the communication. Most dentists hesitated to remove retainers when requested to do so by the patient and attempted to convince them to continue wearing them. Retainers bonded to all six anterior teeth were considered more efficient than those bonded to canines only; however, possible side effects (e.g. unwanted changes of the torque) were not well known. 66.4 per cent respondents were willing to take responsibility for patients in retention as early as 6 months after retainer placement. 93.2 per cent respondents would welcome the establishment of standardized guidelines.


Swiss general dentists have good knowledge of orthodontic retention and follow-up procedures. Nevertheless, introduction of clinical guidelines including information on the possible side-effects of bonded retention is justified.

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