One of the topics we like to discuss with new patients visiting our office is retention. When visiting us to discuss braces, most people want to know what problems braces can solve and how long it will take.
However, it is also important for us to explain that once a patient finishes wearing braces, the process is not yet complete. The retention phase of the treatment process is next. The retention phase takes place after wearing braces or aligners to straighten teeth and aligning the jaw.
What is retention?
Retention is the stage of treatment where patients will need to wear a retainer. Retainers can either consist of a clear and durable plastic that surrounds the teeth or a wire that we secure to a base that rests on the roof of the mouth. Also, we sometimes attach permanent retainers to the back of the front lower teeth. Whether or not this is necessary will depend on the braces orthodontist providing treatment.
Why is it necessary?
Patients often ask us why they need to wear a retainer after getting braces off. Put simply, a retainer is there to prevent the teeth from moving back to their original position or close to it. During orthodontic treatment, we move teeth quite significantly. However, it will take time for them to become accustomed to remaining in a new position.
As such, someone who does not wear a retainer is putting their teeth at a huge risk. Not wearing a retainer makes it likely that teeth will shift out of place and ruin the work that the braces completed in the first place. Fortunately, wearing a retainer is very easy and simple to do.
How long are retainers necessary?
We typically recommend that patients wear the retainer for a year on a daily basis. Afterwards, patients typically need to wear a retainer at night or for maintenance. Some patients only need to do so temporarily while others need to wear a retainer on an ongoing basis. This is typically determined by how far the teeth had to move and how old the patient was during treatment.
Children are less likely to need a retainer for very long. Also, anyone who has a tongue thrust may need to wear a retainer long-term because the tongue could put pressure on the teeth and try to push them forward. The retainer can help to prevent this.
Wearing one is convenient
The retainer can be put in place once in bed. This means that it will not interfere with daily eating, speaking or engaging in any activity. It is really convenient because it can be taken out in the morning before starting the day. We will provide a nice case that it can be placed in to ensure that it remains safe and secure. To care for the retainer, it should be rinsed daily and gently brushed with a soft toothbrush.
Follow-up appointments with the braces orthodontist
After braces have been removed, we ask patients to come back for a follow-up appointment. During that time we can make a recommendation for whether a retainer is still necessary.
Find out more about the process of retention and what to expect from wearing braces in general by scheduling an appointment to speak with the braces orthodontist in our office.
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