Hold on to What You've Got!
Hold on to What You've Got!
22nd June 2020
You’ve finally achieved what you wished for, please don’t let it slip away
Up until the age of 30 the face changes significantly, causing the teeth to push forward and together. This continues for as long as we are alive, but at a lesser rate. This happens to everyone, regardless of past orthodontic treatment or the presence of wisdom teeth. After spending energy, time and money to attain a beautiful smile with orthodontics, it makes sense to do what it takes to keep them there. Wouldn’t it be magic if teeth would stay straight without any effort? Unfortunately in reality, the only guarantee of long-term stability for teeth is long-term retention.
Retention and Retainers
Retention is the period after active orthodontic treatment is completed, where retainers are worn. Retainers are any device that hold teeth in position and prevent undesirable tooth movement. They can be a thin wire that is bonded behind your front teeth or removable plastic guards. Bonded wires are wonderful as they are less dependent on compliance, but they are delicate and can debond or distort. Patient can sometimes be unaware of breakages until tooth movement occurs, which is then too late. Removable retainers are great as they are more resilient than bonded wires, but they take diligence and commitment.
Every patient has unique treatment needs and different retainers have their own set of benefits and risks. Theories on why teeth move have evolved over time and so have the methods of retaining teeth. Advances in technology will also alter a clinician’s preferences for retention.
A specialist orthodontist has the experience and knowledge to know what will best suit the individual. Additionally, every patient has a responsibility to advise their orthodontist if they notice pressure changes, something loose or sharp, poorly fitting retainers or visible tooth movement.
Value and regret
The more you value and cherish your smile, the less you will tolerate tooth movement. Therefore the better you should care for your retainers.
All too frequently we see patients many years after having their braces off. Something relatively minor is bothering them, as their teeth are not as ‘perfect as they were’ when their braces came off. Additional orthodontic treatment is often required to regain that look that they grew to love. The most common feeling expressed is regret over their non-compliance with retainers. Although we love seeing our patients, we only wish them to have orthodontics once in their life! If orthodontic re-treatment is performed to regain dental alignment, retainers will be issued again!
The final word
A healthy and beautiful smile is something to be cherished. Our teeth, just like the rest of our body, undergo continuous change. A specialist orthodontist will give you the correct tools to protect your investment, in the form of retainers and education, to minimise any undesirable movement. After braces, please do the right thing to ensure that you will be happy with your teeth for life.
"When do I stop wearing retainers, Doc?”…. “When you want your teeth to move!”
Retainers are not an optional extra, they are absolutely essential.