One of the most exciting days for anyone that has undergone orthodontic treatment is the day the braces or the aligners finally come off! As soon as the treatment has finished, retainers are needed to keep the teeth straight and prevent any major shifting of the teeth.
In the earlier days of orthodontics it was commonly thought that retainers only needed to be worn for a few years to allow the teeth and bones to solidify into their new position.
However, after more years of experience and more studies on retention of teeth, we now know that retainers are needed for life.
Bone is a living tissue and is in a constant state of change throughout our lives. It is this constant change that allows teeth to move. As with any other part of our bodies, change throughout time is inevitable. Teeth will shift position as we age, and for this reason retainers are required to keep shifting to a minimum.
There are a few different types of retainers that can be used. Each type has its pros and cons and different types will be recommended depending on the treatment that was performed. The most important thing for any type of retainer is making sure that it is consistently worn as prescribed (typically they need to be worn only at night.)
No material will last forever, and retainers are no different–with time they will need to be replaced. Everyone is different in regards to how long their retainers will last. The life of a retainer depends on the enzyme and bacterial environment of the mouth, chewing and clenching habits while wearing the retainers, and how carefully the retainers are cleaned and maintained. But, replacing a retainer when needed is much more economical than going without one and then needing treatment again.
You’ve put in a lot of time and work to get that beautiful smile and proper bite. Make sure to maintain it by wearing retainers!