Orthodontic treatment has advanced to include a variety of bracket styles and treatment options, and even speed up the process, but the use of retainers after the orthodontic treatment remains the same. Whether a patient used traditional dental braces of metal brackets and wires, self-ligating brackets, or lingual braces, the treatment is far from over when the teeth are finally aligned. Orthodontists instruct many patients to use their retainers for life.
During orthodontic treatment, the orthodontist gradually moves teeth through the application of pressure caused by the hardware, a system of brackets and wires. The pressure causes the jaw to consume some of the bone on one side of each tooth while simultaneously building bone on the opposite side, forcing the new positions and orientations within the jaw. This keeps teeth very mobile during the orthodontic treatment, and when the treatment is finally over, the teeth remain mobile until the bones stiffen and they become more rigid.
Retainers are worn for at least a year following orthodontic treatment, with many patients instructed to wear their retainers 24 hours a day for six months or 12 months, then every night for another six months or 12 months. After that, patients can typically wear the retainers one night a week for a year, then gradually shift to wearing one night a week each month for life. The retainer instructions vary based on the patient’s needs and the orthodontist’s judgment of what is best.
When retainers are not properly used as instructed, the teeth can move very quickly and then become rigid in bad positions. Individual behaviors can affect how the teeth move. They may move to the original positions based on the way the patient chews, swallows, and talks with the tongue and face muscles putting pressure on teeth causing them to move. In some patients that don’t follow their retainer instructions, the teeth can become worse than before. For best results, follow the guidance of the orthodontist and trust the treatment to work. For more information about treatment options and retainers, contact our skilled orthodontic specialists at 210-921-9191 today!