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Retention: The Responsibility is Yours

The fact is that you are the person in charge of keeping your teeth straight. How do you do this? By wearing your retainers. Retainers are used for two reasons:

  • To allow bone to rebuild after your teeth have moved

  • Second, to keep individual teeth from drifting.

In other words, retainers preserve and stabilize the results you and your orthodontist achieved through your orthodontic treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have to wear retainers?

Your orthodontist will recommend how long to continue wearing your retainers, whether they are removable (the kind you put in and take out) or fixed (bonded behind your teeth). Wearing your retainers as prescribed is the best way to keep your teeth from moving after your orthodontic treatment. There are many reasons teeth may move following orthodontic treatment. Teeth are not set in concrete; they are in bone. Because the bone around your teeth is continually changing (breaking down and rebuilding), your teeth may shift after your braces are removed. By wearing your retainers, your teeth are more likely to remain where your orthodontist has placed them.

Why do some teeth shift?

The small changes that occur after braces are removed are due to a settling in as you use your teeth for biting and chewing. The more serious and undesirable changes may be traced to genetics or later-than-normal growth, which is unpredictable. Movement is most common in lower front teeth. This is particularly true if the teeth were extremely crowded prior to treatment. Changes in tooth position are a lifelong and naturally occurring phenomenon. The best way to keep teeth from shifting is to wear your retainers as prescribed. If you notice movement after your braces are removed, please contact your orthodontist.

Can retainers be worn too long?

No. Retainers stabilize and preserve the alignment of teeth and jaws that orthodontic treatment achieved. Many people wear removable retainers nightly for the rest of their lives. Ask your orthodontist for guidance about your long-term retainer wear. Achieving your healthy, beautiful smile has been a team effort involving you, your orthodontist, your dentist and other dental specialists as needed. Because dental hygiene is so important to your good dental health, be sure to continue to visit your family dentist regularly and brush and floss as instructed by your dentist.

I had orthodontic treatment as a teen, and now as an adult my teeth are out of place. What can I do?

If you notice an unwanted change in your smile or bite, contact your orthodontist for information. An orthodontic tune-up may be necessary to regain proper alignment.

Will wisdom teeth cause teeth to shift?

Research suggests that wisdom teeth do not necessarily cause teeth to shift. In most cases, removal of wisdom teeth is done for general dental health reasons rather than for orthodontic health. Your family dentist or your orthodontist can give you guidance regarding removal of wisdom teeth.

Important Facts to Remember

  • Keeping your teeth straight is now your responsibility.

  • Do not be alarmed if small changes occur.

  • Wearing your retainer long-term as prescribed by your orthodontist is the best way to preserve the healthy, Beautiful smile created by your orthodontic treatment.

  • Contact your orthodontist any time you need advice or have concerns.

  • See your family dentist regularly.

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