It’s natural to want to keep the beautiful smile you’ve worked so hard to achieve after months or years of orthodontic treatment. The process of ensuring that your teeth remain in their new position after your braces or aligners are removed is known as orthodontic retention. In this blog post, we’ll look at how to keep the results of your orthodontic treatment and avoid relapse.
Why is Orthodontic Retention Important?
Braces or aligners are used to gently move your teeth into the correct position during orthodontic treatment. When your braces or aligners are removed, your teeth will want to gradually shift back to their original position. This is referred to as relapse, and it has the potential to undo all of the hard work that you and your orthodontist have put in during your treatment.
Orthodontic retention is essential for keeping your teeth in their new position and preventing relapse. You can maintain the results of your treatment and enjoy a beautiful smile for years to come by wearing your retainers as directed by your orthodontist.
Types of Orthodontic Retainers
Orthodontic retainers are classified into two types: removable and fixed. Removable retainers, which are typically made of clear plastic, are intended to be worn at night – every night immediately after braces are removed and about twice a week after a year following treatment. Fixed retainers are small wires that are permanently bonded to the back of your front teeth – these are not visible but think of them like a seat belt, keeping safe and in position the teeth that are front and centre, that you’ll want to ensure remain straight!
At Thorndon Orthodontics, we will provide a retention strategy that best suits based on the pre-treatment position of teeth and your oral hygiene and gum condition. Most patients have a combination of fixed and removable retention. Very clear instructions are provided at the time that braces/aligners are removed to ensure that your retainers are most effective. It is critical that you follow these instructions for wearing and caring for the retainers – if you ever need reminding, or any maintenance of the retainers, we are only a phone call away.
Tips on Caring For Your Orthodontic Retainer
Here are some tips for keeping your orthodontic retainers in good condition and preventing relapse:
- Wear your removable retainer according to your orthodontist’s instructions: usually this means wearing them to sleep every night for six months following treatment, alternate nights for another six month then down to once or twice a week. Indefinitely. You read that right! We know that teeth want to crowd and bunch throughout life so wearing a night-time retainer once or twice a week is a small price to pay to ensure your pearly whites stay straight well into adulthood!
- Clean your retainers on a regular basis. Fixed retainers need some TLC when cleaning. You will need to take care to floss between these teeth and ensure that you see a hygienist regularly if you are prone to tartar build up. Removable retainers should be cleaned on a regular basis with a soft-bristled toothbrush. If there’s some build up or an odour, retainer cleaning solutions or tablets are available.
- Keep your retainer in a safe place. Removable retainers should be stored in a protective case when not in use to avoid damage or loss. You’d be surprised how many retainers we replace every year because the family pooch found them! Keep retainers in a closed container out of reach of family pets and young children.
- We will monitor your retainers for two years after your orthodontic treatment. Beyond this, we are always available to provide any assistance with maintaining or replacing retainers, especially if we provided your orthodontic treatment! If you have issues with retainers, it is best to have these seen to as soon as possible by a registered specialist orthodontist before the teeth have a chance to move out of line.
- At Thorndon Orthodontics, we digitally scan your teeth when treatment is complete. These scans are securely stored and we are able to remake your retainers in as little as 60 minutes without the need for gooey moulds.
- In the unlikely event that a fixed retainer falls out or comes loose, contact us straight away! A retainer wire can often be reglued at minimal cost as long as the wire has not been tampered with or distorted.
Orthodontic retention is critical to maintaining the results of your orthodontic treatment and avoiding relapse. You can have a beautiful smile for years to come if you follow your orthodontist’s instructions for wearing and caring for your retainers.
Contact Thorndon Orthodontics today if you have any questions about orthodontic retention or need to schedule an appointment to have your retainer checked. Our skilled team is committed to assisting you in maintaining a beautiful, healthy smile.