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Wire syndrome: a complication in orthodontic retention

From Volume 16, Issue 3, July 2023 | Pages 147-150


Aliya Hasan

Speciality Orthodontic Registrar

Articles by Aliya Hasan

Email Aliya Hasan


‘Wire syndrome’ is a phenomenon that involves fixed orthodontic retainers causing unwanted tooth movement. In severe cases, the retainer may have debonded from the teeth. This article addresses the prevalence, presentation and management of wire syndrome.

CPD/Clinical Relevance: This article is relevant for general dental practitioners, periodontists and orthodontists to recognize the signs of wire syndrome and understand its multidisciplinary management.


Fixed orthodontic retention has become an increasingly popular method of preventing occlusal relapse following orthodontic treatment.1 Wire syndrome is a term that was first coined by Roussarie et al.2 While this was a new phrase, the concept of wire syndrome has been widely known since it was described in detail by Katsaros et al.3

Unwanted tooth movement as a result of wire syndrome can often have periodontal implications because of marked gingival recession, as well as iatrogenic implications, such as torquing a root out of bone and losing the vitality of teeth. These tooth movements must not be confused with relapse of orthodontic correction, because the position of the teeth following wire syndrome is markedly different to the original tooth position.

As the number of patients attending general dental practices with retainer issues is increasing, awareness of wire syndrome and the effects of active bonded wires is rising. There are many clinicians however, who are still unaware of the adverse effects of orthodontic retainers becoming ‘active’ A survey carried out in France in 2021 described only 18% of general dental practitioners as being aware of the risks of placing an active bonded retainer.4 This article aims to educate general dental practitioners, orthodontists and periodontists about the phenomenon known as wire syndrome, and its management.

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