We know the day your braces are removed is a day to celebrate. All the hard work you exerted during your treatment can finally be seen. This milestone does not mean your treatment is over.
After your braces or Invisalign treatment, you will need to wear a retainer to ensure your teeth stay in the places you worked so hard to achieve. The teeth will not naturally stay in these places on their own. The tissues of your mouth, including the bones and ligaments, need some time to adjust to the teeth being in new locations. At this point is where your retainer enters the scene. Without your retainer, your teeth would just drift right back to where they were before treatment. As we age, our teeth have a tendency to naturally shift. This shifting can happen for several reasons; years of everyday wear and tear, periodontal disease, and loss of bone density. So you will want to keep that retainer close for quite a while.
When your braces are first removed, we will advise you to wear your retainer around the clock. It should only be taken out to eat, drink, brush and floss. We will ask you to wear it all the time until we think your mouth has adjusted to the teeth’s new locations. This time frame may be a different recommendation for every patient, but it could be for as long as two years. We don’t want all that hard work to be lost!
After your initial wear period, we do recommend that you continue to wear the retainer indefinitely. At first, you can begin to wear it only at night, and then only a few nights a week. But to keep your smile as straight as the day your braces were removed, we recommend continued wear forever.
Your orthodontist will have a few different kinds of retainers available, and will recommend what is believed to be best for your situation. Hawley retainers are probably what you picture when you think of a retainer. They are made of acrylic with a metal wire that goes around the teeth. Essix retainers look like Invisalign aligners and fit directly over the teeth. Bonded retainers are permanently bonded to the back of the teeth, and are typically only used on the bottom teeth.
We will recommend follow-up appointments while you are wearing your retainer to be sure the retainer fits properly and is doing its job.