Many former Orthodontic patients are familiar with that feeling of trying to squeeze on a retainer after forgetting to wear it for a week….or two! There is a reason for this discomfort.
Our teeth are constantly moving. Many post-Orthodontic patients will experience ‘Orthodontic relapse’ a phenomenon that causes the teeth to slowly shift out of alignment following treatment. The amount of movement and relapse will depend on the patient and so the only way to be sure to avoid unwanted movement is to adhere to the retention plan set out by your Orthodontic professional.
Periodontal tissues require time to reorganise and settle after treatment. The bone and tissues need to adjust to the new position of the teeth. Retainers aid this adjustment and protect the teeth from forces that cause relapse. Teeth have a natural tendency to try to return to their original position but the correct wear of retainers will prevent this unwanted movement.
Essentially, when our job is finished yours begins. Just as keeping your teeth clean and healthy is a lifelong commitment, maintaining an aligned smile requires a long-term commitment to your retainer.
At Balbriggan Braces, we prescribe Essix retainers. These clear plastic retainers are made after taking an impression of the newly straightened teeth. They are discreet and fit precisely over each tooth. On occasion, a fixed wire is cemented to the back of the front teeth for added retention but it is the Essix retainers that are most important. We advise patients to wear their retainers for 6 weeks full-time following brace removal and then every night for as long as you want the teeth to stay perfectly aligned for!
Caring for your retainer also has to be considered. Nobody wants to put a dirty, smelly retainer in their mouth! We advise that the retainer is brushed with your toothbrush without toothpaste. Never place your retainer in hot water as the plastic will distort. To keep your retainers extra clean and fresh they can be soaked intermittently in a solution with a retainer or denture cleaning tablet. As with anything, wear and tear is inevitable and your retainers will need to be replaced in time.
We urge patients to promptly contact us if your retainers are lost or broken. Help protect your retainer by placing it in a protective case when not in use.