Orthodontic Treatment: The Importance of Retainers
When it comes to braces and Invisalign treatment, orthodontists used to assume that if they put the teeth in the “right” position, they would stay there forever. But research over the past thirty years has proven that this is not the case and that there is no “right” position that can assure a permanent, unchanging result.
In fact, most people will notice changes to their bite and tooth alignment as they age. This is true with or without braces and orthodontic treatment; it does not depend upon your age at treatment and can occur for several reasons, which are not always the same for each person.
To explain this, we need to recognize that there are two types of post-orthodontic treatment changes that occur.
The first is that when your treatment is finished, there may be an instant tendency for your teeth to drift back to their original positions. This is because the teeth, bone and gum tissues to which they are attached have memorized their location. Studies show that this tendency gradually diminishes, although it may be an issue for up to 18 months.
The second is a slower, longer lasting change that takes place over time. This is due to a gradual “uprighting” movement of the front teeth located in the lower jaw, which can cause them to become crowded as they shift toward the tongue.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions we’re asked about braces and orthodontic treatment.
After your orthodontic treatment is finished and your braces are removed, you will need retainers to keep your teeth in their new positions.
HOW LONG DO I NEED TO WEAR MY RETAINERS?
It takes some time for the bone and all the tissues around your teeth to regroup so it is necessary to use retainers until your bite becomes stable. The risk of relapse is very high during the first month after the braces are removed. How long do you like your teeth to be straight? If your answer is “forever”, like most of our patient’s answers, then you definitely will need to wear retainers for lifetime. You will start wearing retainers all day long, gradually tapering down to every night, every other night, and eventually one night a week. Remember, retainer wear is a lifetime commitment.
WHAT WILL MY RETAINERS LOOK LIKE?
The retainers are individually customized to prevent teeth from reverting back to their original positions. Retainers can be removable appliances or a fixed wire bonded at the back of your front teeth.
WILL MY TEETH ALWAYS REMAIN THE SAME WHEN THE RETENTION PERIOD IS OVER?
Bone has the capacity to change for as long as we live; that is why a broken bone can heal. To avoid the risk of late crowding, removable retainers can be worn at night for a lifetime, and fixed retainers kept in for more than 5 years, and then switched to removable retainers. All patients usually sleep with their retainers on once or twice a week for the rest of their lives, if they want their teeth to remain in perfect alignment.
If you would like more information regarding braces, Invisalign and orthodontic treatment – don’t hesitate – call our office at 702-978-6304 today to schedule a consultation.