At the end of orthodontic treatment, patients are happy to get the device off of their teeth and resume their normal life; laughing freely, eating whatever they feel like, and not feeling pressure on their teeth and gums. This is why many patients are shocked to find out that a further device- the orthodontic retainer- will need to be worn, and potentially for the rest of their lives. Upon hearing this, many patients may think this is a bad joke, or just a precaution, and will engage in a bit of wishful thinking and not wear their retainers. This is a very common mistake, and will cause all of the hard work and effort put in during the time of orthodontic treatment to be reversed. Below in this article, we will explain why you absolutely MUST wear your retainer, how long you will need to wear it, and what the consequences of not wearing it can be.
Why you must wear a retainer
The retainer is an absolutely essential part of orthodontic treatment. The teeth have a natural tendency to return to the position they were originally in, and as teeth are always semi-mobile, they will, after enough time, find a way to do so. The new position that orthodontic treatment has put them in is not their natural position, and they will try to return to the position they were in. This is why, once the teeth have been put in a new position, the retainer must be worn to retain the position of the teeth.
How long must a patient wear a retainer?
This depends on what kind of orthodontic treatment the patient got, how old the patient is, and a bunch of other, minor factors. Generally speaking, young patients who get treatment before the teeth are fully erupted and their bones have completely set must wear the retainer until their bones set, but usually only at night or only for half the day. The more severe the treatment was, and the more that needed to be done, the longer the retainers need to be worn for, and sometimes, a retainer must be worn for the rest of the patient’s days. Some teeth react better to orthodontic treatment, and some are very stubborn, and must be moved with more force, and these teeth will take longer to retain as well.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Well, the entire orthodontic treatment will have been for naught. All that time, effort wasted, all of that discomfort endured for nothing. If that isn’t bad enough, the consequences can be worse, as the teeth, as they are moving back to their original place may find that other teeth or structures are in their way, and this may cause damage to the deeper structures of the teeth. Wearing your retainer as you can see is thus not optional, but a necessary part of treatment to make sure your teeth align properly.