Are more important than the braces!

Every treatment needs retention.

Every orthodontic treatment needs retention.  A retention device is designed to maintain the desired result after the treatment.  Retention is important because:

Teeth have the tendency to return to their original position after the treatment (especially for the first 12 months after treatment)

Teeth move as we grow old. It’s a normal part of aging.

There are two types of retainers

There are mainly two types or retainers: the clear plastic vacuum formed type and the fixed wire behind the teeth. The fixed wire behind the teeth is reserved for the lower teeth in cases where there was severe rotations and misalignment. The problems with these types of retainers are poor oral hygiene and breakage. It is very difficult to floss with these retainers and plaque build-up will be the result. These retainers require regular oral hygiene visits to clean.  In addition, eating of toffees and certain foods may cause breakage which can result in the tooth moving. We do not place fixed wires on the upper teeth because it interferes with the bite and dislodges easily.

Clear retainers have a few advantages – it’s possible to maintain proper oral hygiene, you can eat what you want and you can see when the retainer is damaged and needs replacing. It may also offer protection for patients who grind and clench their teeth.  These types of retainers usually need to be replaced very 18-24 months.

As we already mentioned, teeth move as we age. It is therefore recommended to use retention for as long as a good result is desired. This is especially true when for the ages when the wisdom teeth want to erupt (16-21 years).

Retainers are more important than the braces because they are the responsibility of the patient. The teeth will move back if the retainers are not worn as indicated. If the teeth move, the retainers will not fit and might be painful to wear. This can happen very quickly if the braces have been removed recently (within the last 3 months). When the retainers are lost or broken it is advised to contact the office ASAP to have them replaced, before movement occurs.