You’re finally done with braces! You get them removed and you’re done with your orthodontic treatment for life, right? Wrong. The retention phase of orthodontic treatment is just as important as the active treatment phase. What is retention? This is the time when the focus is on keeping your teeth in the ideal positions so that they will remain properly aligned for the rest of your life.
How do you accomplish this? Retainers. These orthodontic appliances are typically made of plastic or a combination of plastic and metal. They fit over and around your teeth and hold them in their current position.
What happens if you don’t wear your retainer? There are a few different potential consequences, none of which are good. Here are the possibilities.
Your Teeth May Shift
The first consequence of not wearing your retainer after orthodontic treatment is that your teeth may shift back to their original positions. You spent months or even years getting orthodontic treatment, only to watch the results fade. Those gaps between your teeth that were closed up by your treatment could open right back up again. Your overbite, underbite, or crossbite could come back. Your teeth may turn or overlap again. All your progress can be undone in a matter of days, weeks, or months.
Your Retainers Won’t Fit Anymore
If you don’t wear your retainers and your teeth shift out of alignment, your retainers probably won’t fit anymore. When you can’t get them back in your mouth with the correct fit, it is too late to correct the shifting of your teeth with retainers alone. When you forget to wear your retainers for one night or a few nights in a row, you may find that they are a little tight when you first put them in. This is ok as long as they begin to feel right again after a few hours. The teeth can often shift back into place when they are only slightly shifted.
Once your teeth have settled into place more permanently, you may find that you can go a few days without wearing your retainers and they will still fit. It is a good idea to wear them at least 3 times a week while you sleep to keep them fitting properly.
You May Have to Repeat Your Treatment
To get the same results you had the first time, you may need to have your braces put back on. Most patients, and parents especially, don’t enjoy having to repeat orthodontic treatment. Not only do you have to go through the entire process of treatment again (although it may be shorter the second time), your parents will have to pay for another round of treatment. No one is happy in this situation.
How Often and How Long Should I Wear My Retainers?
For the first few weeks or months you may need to wear your retainers all the time, taking them out only when you eat and brush your teeth. Once your teeth have had time to settle into place, you can start wearing them only at night. It is usually recommended that you never stop wearing your retainers entirely. You can keep your teeth in the proper position by wearing them at night a few times a week.
What If I Can’t Remember to Wear My Retainers?
There is one option that can eliminate the opportunity to forget to wear your retainers. Permanent retainers can be attached to the back sides of your upper and lower arch of teeth. They are typically made of metal and cemented into place. They are not visible when you smile or talk, and they can only be removed by your orthodontist.
Improve Your Smile With Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics
Orthodontic treatment improves your smile as well as correcting the alignment of your teeth. If you want your results to last, wearing your retainers according to your orthodontist’s instructions is a must. If you have any problems with your retainers or if one gets lost, call us right away.
Contact us at any of our 3 convenient locations:
We look forward to helping you transform your smile.