Having your braces removed is an exciting moment, but before you run off with your beautifully straight teeth, it’s important to know that without retainers they could move. No one wants that, especially you. So it’s really important to wear your retainers devotedly as instructed by your orthodontist.
Retainers hold your teeth in their new position, and without them your teeth will start to drift with age. This can be back towards their original position and over time you might find yourself back where you started. It’s a completely avoidable outcome, but unfortunately all too common.
That’s why we place as much importance on retention as your treatment, and provide every patient with removable retainers and 12 months of follow-up care.
During orthodontic treatment your teeth are held in position by your braces, but once they’re removed, stretched elastic fibres in the gum try to pull the teeth back to their original position – something we call “orthodontic relapse”. It takes time for these fibres to remodel and stop pulling on the teeth.
Continued growth of the jaws can also encourage the teeth to move once treatment has been completed. To help avoid orthodontic relapse we provide our patients with retainers, which hold the teeth in their new position.
You’re most at risk of relapse just after your braces have been removed, then over time your teeth will begin to stabilise. But this doesn’t mean you can stop wearing your retainer after a few months. To guarantee your teeth stay put, retainers are a lifelong commitment – thankfully they’re both comfortable and discreet.
At the end of your orthodontic treatment you will be provided with a retainer which may be a removable brace, a fixed retainer or a combination of both.
A removable retainer needs to be worn for 2 days full time, then every night in bed for at least a year and after this at least 3 nights per week long term. This will prevent the teeth moving back to their original position.
Fixed retainers usually consist of a thin wire which is bonded to the tongue-side of your front teeth with a dental adhesive. They are not removable and they can be damaged if you do not take care to avoid hard, sticky or chewy food coming into contact with the retainer. Fixed retainers also deteriorate through natural "wear and tear" and need to be replaced in time.