Imagine a patient who’s just broken her arm. We’ll call her Suzie. Suzie will be rushed to the emergency room to mend her broken arm. Depending on her condition, the doctors will most likely perform surgery, realign the arm bones and send Suzie home with a cast to enforce the proper structure of her arm for the next few months or so.
Now imagine she removes her cast after one day of wear. The arm bones don’t know the proper way to heal; they have no structure or alignment for growth support. The arm will most likely resume its broken position, reverting to an unhealthy alignment with improper growth. Essentially, Suzie just underwent surgery for no reason, and she’ll have to endure treatment all over again.
Now, apply this to your orthodontic treatment.
You just went through a full 18-month treatment of traditional metal braces or Invisalign® clear aligners. The day your braces are removed, Dr. King gives you your retainer (or in Suzie’s case, her cast) to wear diligently for the next year. If you choose not to wear your retainer, your teeth will revert to their previous position prior to your braces treatment. To avoid regression in your treatment, your teeth need subsequent enforcement and structure once your braces are removed.
Soft tissues need reinforcement
Your braces have been removed, and your teeth and gums are standing freely on their own. They’ve become accustomed to constant surrounding pressure enforcing their structure and supporting them in their position. Once the crutch is removed, your teeth and gums will need to stabilize without the help of braces. With no enforcement, teeth have a natural tendency to revert to their natural position. (Their natural position is the reason you initially needed braces, so you obviously don’t want them back in that same position!) Your teeth and gums are tender after your braces are removed; they’re easily influenced by pressure. Wearing your retainer as prescribed will keep your teeth and gums in the proper position, supporting them through the day and night. The retainer will literally retain your perfect smile.
Teeth shift out of place
Your retainer is designed to correct overcrowding or spacing in your teeth. If your teeth are prone to spacing, your retainer’s design will ensure your teeth are held tightly together. Eventually, after a period of retention, your teeth will stabilize in a compact formation. If your mouth is relatively small and your teeth are prone to overcrowding and overlapping each other, your retainer will be designed to leave space where it’s necessary. This position will also stabilize once your retainer is worn sufficiently.
Similarly, your retainer’s design will leave room for wisdom teeth to grow with a healthy amount of space. Wisdom teeth typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. As many people have braces before or during this period, the emergence of wisdom teeth must be considered during an orthodontic treatment and after. Your retainer will ensure enough space for wisdom teeth to grow in properly. Failure to wear your retainer will cause crowded teeth and gapped teeth to reappear.
How long should I wear my retainer?
Depending on the type of retainer you choose, you will be prescribed an amount of time to keep your retainer in place. We offer different types of retainers, including removable retainers and permanent retainers. Removable retainers will be worn full-time, day and night, for 2 weeks following removal of your braces. After 2 weeks of full-time wear, Dr. King will give you the green light to wear your retainer only at night. Eventually, you will be able to wear your retainer at night a few days a week, and you will continue to wear it like this for as long as you want to keep your teeth in excellent condition. (We recommend forever!)
If you have a permanent retainer, this will stay in place supporting your bottom teeth for the foreseeable future. Some patients choose to have these removed after years, while most get used to their permanent retainer very quickly and choose not to have it removed. As long as your permanent retainer remains in, your bottom teeth will have constant structural enforcement keeping them straight and properly aligned.
If you’re ready to take the next step and want to schedule your complimentary consultation with Dr. King, you can do so here!
If you have any questions about retainers, braces or Invisalign®, Jupiter Orthodontics has you covered. Feel free to contact us here!
We are proud to serve the Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, and Hobe Sound, FL communities.