Wearing your retainer is not an optional thing. If the orthodontist has prescribed a retainer after braces, you need to fill that prescription and wear your retainer in the manner and for the allotted time prescribed by your orthodontist. Failure to wear your retainer after braces will cause all of the hard work that the orthodontist put into your treatment to slowly reverse, which means you will have gone through the entire treatment for nothing!
How teeth shift and how can dental braces work
We tend to think of teeth as hard little pieces of bone like enamel that are set in the equally hard jaw bones in their little space, and that’s that. This is far from the truth. Teeth shift and move about in a soft bone ridge called the alveolus, and can travel several centimetres in each direction, and by applying pressure, you can push or pull the teeth through the bones. The alveolus is quite malleable and easy to manipulate, and the teeth that are in it can also be moved and manipulated. This is how repetitive motions like sucking your thumb, for example, can cause your teeth to stick out, or tongue thrusts can cause the front teeth to change their positions. Teeth can even rotate inside of the alveolus! So far from being stationary, teeth can move about, and this is why orthodontics works at all: because we can push or pull the teeth into a new, healthier position. But this also means that teeth can move back into their old position as well, and they are likely to do so, as they are biologically programmed or compelled to stay in a certain arrangement. This is where the retainer steps in.
Retainers after dental braces
Once the new positioning of your teeth has been acjju9hieved, a retainer needs to be worn so that the alveolus and the harder jaw bone can “memorise” the new alignment, and can accept and reorganise to incorporate the new position of the teeth. Some cases require only a few months of wearing your retainer, others require to wear them for life, sometimes the retainers are fixed in the mouth, other times they only need to be worn during sleep, but whatever the instructions are, you must keep them to make sure that your new, healthy alignment stays with you and is not reversed.