A retainer is a custom-made, removable or fixed appliance that helps teeth maintain their new position after braces have been removed. Teeth retainers can also be used to treat minor orthodontic problems as well and are one of the most important parts of your orthodontic treatment. You—and the dental professionals at Forest & Ray have worked hard to get your teeth into their best possible position. Still, it is not unlikely that when braces are removed, the teeth will want to return to their original positions.
Why Does Orthodontic Relapse Occur?
If you have noticed that your teeth are slowly shifting after getting your braces removed, you are likely dealing with orthodontic relapse. It helps to know the causes so you can prevent it from worsening and get proper treatment before it gets too severe. Here are some common causes for shifting of the teeth after having braces:
- Genetics – Shifting of the teeth might occur during adulthood if the braces were worn as a child or teen.
- Grinding – If you are someone that grinds your teeth, it puts a strain on your upper teeth and can cause shifting over time.
- Losing Teeth – If after orthodontic treatment, you lost a tooth, your other teeth will start migrating toward the missing teeth, which causes a relapse.
- Worn tooth enamel – Another cause of orthodontic relapse is when the tooth enamel wears away, which then causes tooth movement.
How Long Must I Wear Teeth Retainers?
It takes time for the bone and all the tissues around your teeth to reorganize and therefore it is necessary to use retainers until your bite stabilizes. In the first month after the braces are removed, the risk of relapse is very high so, usually, retainers are worn for as long a time as you have had been wearing your braces.
Often times a patient will ask: Do I have to wear a retainer day and night, forever? Answer: No. You only must wear your retainer at all times, day and night, for the first three months after your braces are removed. During those first three months, retainers must be worn all the time, except when you're eating, flossing or brushing your teeth.
How Does A Retainer Fix My Teeth After They’ve Moved?
There is an acrylic section that goes over your teeth, which helps to keep them in their current position or to move them back to where they need to be. Your orthodontist may recommend the fixed retainer if your teeth are at risk of shifting further and they want to prevent you from having to wear braces again.
How Should I Take Care of My Retainer?
Just as you take good care of your teeth after orthodontic treatment, you should also keep your retainer clean and well cared for otherwise, you’ll have to replace it prematurely because it is broken or worn. The retainer should be cleaned every single day and never placed directly on the bathroom counter. We will give you a retainer case that will keep the retainer safe when it isn’t in use. We will also recommend retainer cleaners that help to remove the bacteria.
Since a fixed retainer is not removed, it is cleaned the same way as when you brush your teeth. Make sure you remove any food particles that get caught in the wire of the fixed retainer. Dental floss can be used to remove particles from the hard-to-reach places. Each time you come back to us for a check-up, we will see how your teeth are shifting and will examine the removable or fixed retainer.
Let Us Help
At Forest & Ray, we can choose from a number of excellent orthodontic options for you including the popular Invisalign retainers. So, let us be a part of your teeth retaining solution!