85 300SD: how do tranny bands fail?

Water got into the tranny, that problem has been resolved after replacing radiator and changing fluid several times. That water-contaminated fluid was in there for a LONG time....couple of
months probably! It seems to be shifting smoother than before! But someone said that once the bands get wet, that is it.... the damage is done, and they will fail soon. Well, I don't really understand the function of bands that well...I think they are something like clutches. If so, then does that mean I will get a warning of impending failure when the trany starts to slip changing gears? IE, will the tranny fail gradually, or catastrphically, if indeed the bands are damaged?
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Someone says... you frets... My philosophy is don't worry... drive it until it goes bad... If there is no slipping now, you probably won't get any slipping problem until ten of thousands of miles later.
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