Why You Need A Retainer After Treatment

You will be wearing a retainer for a while, whether the orthodontist in Melbourne, FL treats you with Invisalign or traditional braces. The retainer is what helps your teeth stay in place after you’ve just spent a year or two adjusting them. Failing to wear the retainer as often as your doctor recommends can result in changes to a patient’s smile, so it’s really important to use it as directed.

Retainer Compliance Rates

A 2008 study published by the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics looked at compliance rates among people who had been prescribed retainers after orthodontic treatment. 69 percent of patients wore their retainers as directed for the first three months post-treatment. That number went up to 76 percent for months 4 to 6 in the study. This suggests that some patients are able to feel their teeth shifting almost immediately if they don’t wear their retainers as directed, or as frequently as directed.

Will You Need a Retainer?

There’s no question that you will need to wear a retainer for some period after treatment with Invisalign or braces. Invisalign and traditional braces move the teeth in slightly different ways, but the end result is the same. Any kind of teeth straightening treatment will require the use of a retainer afterward.

Why Do the Teeth Move After Treatment Ends?

When a patient is wearing braces or Invisalign, it puts pressure on the teeth to move them into place. This is a process that takes a bit of time. Invisalign is appropriate for many teens and adults who only need mild to moderate shifting. Braces are recommended for patients with moderate to severe shifting required.

What the patient and their friends or family don’t see while the teeth are being shifted is changes to the jawbone. The jawbone that normally holds the teeth in place will start to soften as the braces or Invisalign trays do their work, thus allowing the teeth to shift. Once the treatment stops, the jawbone is still soft for a while. This is known as resorption. That’s the period when wearing a retainer becomes very important.

Once a patient is no longer wearing their orthodontic appliance, bone regrowth needs to take place. Until new bone cells are deposited, the teeth have room to shift back toward their original positions. Biting down, chewing, swallowing and speaking can put pressure on our teeth all the time. During the period when the jawbone is softened, this leaves room for the teeth to move and shift. The goal of the retainer is to hold the teeth in place until new bone grows, which will hold the teeth in their new and straightened positions.

If you don’t wear your retainer for a few days, it may start to feel tight or uncomfortable. It is custom designed in a laboratory to fit your mouth and teeth perfectly. So long as you follow your Melbourne orthodontist’s instructions for wearing it, the retainer should fit well.

What Happens if a Retainer is Lost or Broken?

Breaking a retainer is actually a frequent occurrence. It is made of light, flexible material that can easily become broken or misshapen. Its shape can be changed by things as simple as setting a textbook on the retainer.

If you feel any sudden changes to your retainer after an incident, or your retainer becomes lost, it’s important to call our office quickly. We will want to get a replacement retainer for you quickly, before your teeth start to shift from not wearing it.

How Long Do Patients Wear Retainers?

Every patient is different, so this is difficult to answer precisely before your treatment begins. For the first year post-treatment, it will be recommended that you wear the retainer every night. Once the first year has passed and additional bone cells in the jaw are holding your teeth in their new positions better, you may only have to wear the retainer three to five nights per week.

If you think that you would benefit from orthodontic treatment, Contact Us at Melbourne Orthodontics to schedule an appointment today.