After months in brackets and wires, it’s finally the big day: you’re getting your braces off. But once your teeth have been freed from their bands, your orthodontic treatment isn’t quite complete. You’ll be presented with retainers to wear, metal-and-plastic appliances that keep your teeth in their new alignment.
Frustrated by the concept of further orthodontia? Our Oak Lawn orthodontist is here to help with a simple guide to why your retainers matter. If you wear them as instructed, you’ll be free of the retainers as soon as possible. In the meantime, you put a lot of time and energy into straightening your teeth – don’t you want your beautiful, new smile to really last?
Why Your Retainer Is So Important for a Straighter Smile
Braces apply gentle, consistent force to your teeth. With the aid of delicate mechanisms and carefully maneuvered force, your teeth eventually move into ideal alignment. Depending on your teeth, you might need to have your teeth shifted horizontally, or they may need to be tilted/turned. This is accomplished with metal brackets and wires. Dr. Thomas will shape the archwires so that they move your teeth in the appropriate directions. Once the wires are threaded through your brackets, they work to return to their formal shapes (activated by heat). The end result is tooth movement.
But that tooth movement happens very slowly. It’s due to bone remodeling, the process of bone dissolving and reforming. As a response to the pressure of braces, your bone and gum tissues create fresh bone, and remove old cells. Once the braces are off, your body has a tendency to return to its former state. Without braces to continue tailoring tooth movement, your teeth will attempt to shift back to their earlier positions. This kind of lost progress is aggravating, and could even lead to you needing braces again.
Shift prevention is as simple as wearing a removable retainer. Depending on your case, you may have either a fixed or removable appliance – it’s more common for the upper retainer to be removable, and the lower to be fixed. Immediately after getting your braces off, you’ll need to wear your retainers at all times. But as the results solidify, and your bone registers the changes as permanent, you can cut down your retainer wear to just evenings, while you sleep. This leaves your smile unfettered during the day.
Keeping Your Retainer Wear On Track
You should follow Dr. Thomas’ instructions on retainer wear closely. If you ever have a question about your retainer, we’re here to help. Throughout the process, there are some general guidelines you can follow to see success.
- Always keep an eye on your retainers – Don’t let them out of your site! If the retainers become broken or damaged, it will be expensive and time-consuming to have them replaced. Get a brightly colored case, and never hide them in napkins while eating – this leads to them being thrown away.
- Make it a priority to wear them – If you need to set reminders in order to wear them frequently enough, find ways to keep yourself on schedule. By wearing your retainers now, you prevent big problems down the line.
- Brush your retainers to keep them clean – By keeping your retainers clean of bacteria, you make sure they won’t lead to cavities or irritated gums.
Oak Lawn Orthodontist Advises: What to Do About Shifting Teeth
As you age, it’s common for your teeth to shift. Whether this is due to periodontal disease, enamel wear, lack of retainer wear, or other issues, there are ways to keep your bite from changing. Ready to learn more? Just contact our office.