I know, it sounds like you’ve been sentenced to solitary confinement in a maximum security prison, but it’s only retainers we’re talking about here..
What are retainers all about?
Retainers are designed to keep your teeth stable after the braces are removed.
Why do I need them?
Teeth are programmed to move forward throughout the course of your life, leading to a return of crowding.
How long do I need them?
That would be the “for life” part.
Gone are the days when your braces come off, you wear your retainers for a couple of months, throw them away, and go on your merry way. If you want your teeth to stay in the place where they are the day your braces are removed, you need to wear your retainers for life. Yes, you heard correctly, for life.
Many people are surprised when they hear this. Teeth are so solid, that it is hard to imagine them moving on their own. What we need to remember is that they are attached to the bone gums that surround them by elastic fibers. It is these fibers that allow us to move the teeth during orthodontic treatment and it is these same fibers that can allow them to move after the braces are removed.
There are a number of retention options. When I was first in practice, upper and lower removable retainers were most commonly used.
Today in practice, I have modified those somewhat.
I still use a removable upper retainer, but rather than a wire across the front, a strong clear plastic is used.
And the reason that you no longer see a lower retainer? It has changed to one that is attached permanently behind the lower front teeth.
The lower front teeth are the smallest teeth in the mouth and have the smallest roots. Research has shown that they are also the teeth most likely to move after treatment is complete. By utilizing a retainer that is attached, we have just dramatically increased the odds that not only your teeth, but also your bite will be maintained for life. And as anyone who has had braces will tell you… once is enough… once we get them there, let’s keep them there! Do yourself and your orthodontist a favor… wear your retainers!