In our orthodontic office, we can provide important information and details about the teeth straightening process using braces. We will also go over how to maintain a beautiful smile once the treatment process is complete. Retention is one important topic that we like to bring to patients’ attention.
When most people come in to discuss wearing braces, they know that there is a commitment necessary to straighten the teeth. However, most people are unaware that it will be necessary to use a retainer for a period of time in order to keep teeth in the correct position after removing the braces.
Why retention is necessary
During the course of an orthodontic treatment, the teeth will move significantly from the previous position and to their final resting place. This movement takes consistent upward adjustments by an orthodontist. Once teeth are in the right position and the jaw is in proper alignment, we can remove the braces.
However, this does not mean the teeth will not try to regress and move back to where they initially were. To prevent them from doing so, the patient will wear a retainer. The length of time that a patient wears the retainer will depend on several factors, including:
- How old someone was when they got braces, adults are more likely to need a retainer long-term
- How far teeth move
- If the patient has a tongue thrust
- Genetics and how the teeth respond to an orthodontic treatment in general
We understand that each of our patients is unique and so is how they respond to orthodontic treatment. Therefore, our overall recommendation for retention will be highly specific and a decision that we will determine when we are nearing the end of the initial orthodontic treatment.
When a retainer is necessary
It is important to note that it is not necessary to wear a retainer all day. While some patients may have to wear the retainer all day for the first few months following treatment, most people only need to wear the retainer at night for around a year. Some people need to wear a retainer for the rest of their life, but this is rare.
Types of retainers
In our orthodontic office, we can provide patients with two main types of retainers. These are typically either a solid plastic piece that surrounds the teeth and is clear or a wire that we secure to a base on the roof of the mouth. Both options are practical and durable retention solutions.
Sometimes, a permanent retainer will be behind the lower front teeth. This can be beneficial because it means that a patient only needs to remember wearing one retainer at night. However, there can be long-term oral health risks associated with this. Since it is difficult to floss with a permanent retainer in, some people experience a buildup of plaque and tartar that leads to dental decay and gum disease.
As such, anyone with a permanent retainer needs to be incredibly careful and precise with their daily oral hygiene routine. Also, it is important to visit the dentist once or twice a year for regular dental cleanings. This can help to reduce the likelihood of a permanent retainer causing something like gum disease.
Schedule a consultation with our orthodontic office
Keep in mind that all of our treatments are customized based on the needs of individual patients. As such, the duration of the retention aspect of the treatment is going to be specific to you. Therefore, we recommend scheduling a consultation with our office to learn more about what your personal process may be like.
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