Teeth have a natural tendency to return to their original position even after they have been shifted by orthodontic treatment. In order to make sure that the effects of the orthodontic treatment you underwent stick, and your teeth stay in their new, healthier position is to wear your retainer. Here is how and why.
Why teeth revert back
During orthodontic treatment, your bones and soft tissues are in a constant state of low level inflammation, which makes it easier to move teeth around in them. But once the inflammation is gone, teeth have a natural tendency to revert back to their original position. The reason is really genetic; we are genetically programmed to have our teeth be in a certain pattern. While the bones are still relatively soft, the teeth will try to go back to the way they know how to be, but in the case of pathological malocclusions, this is not such a good idea.
How the retainer works
An orthodontic retainer will hold the teeth in the position they are in and stop them from going back to their old ways. This means that they allow the bones to get over the inflammation, and still hold the teeth in their new place, to allow the bones to form around them in their new position. The retainer basically just holds your teeth in place for you, until the bones can properly harden.
How long do you need to wear your retainer?
Usually retainers need to be worn for the length of the orthodontic treatment, which is around 30 months’ time on average. Some orthodontic retainers are fixed, some are removable, some need to come out from time to time, others can stay in all the time, some only need to be worn when you are sleeping, and some need to be worn all day long. Most retainers only need to be worn for around the time of the orthodontic treatment, but some of them need to be worn indefinitely, in order to make sure that the teeth stay where they are.