The importance of retainers after orthodontic treatment

The importance of retainers after orthodontic treatment

Posted by IDC Team | 11th April 2024 | Team News

Orthodontic treatment via traditional fixed braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign®, often marks the end of a long journey towards achieving a beautiful and straight smile. However, the journey doesn’t end once your orthodontic treatment finishes and the braces come off or the last aligner is worn. In fact, it’s just the beginning of a very crucial stage post active treatment that is often overlooked – that is “post-treatment retention”. Retainers play a vital role in maintaining the results of orthodontic treatment, ensuring that your smile remains straight and healthy for years to come.

Preserving results
After months or sometimes years of orthodontic treatment, your teeth have finally reached their desired, optimal position. However, teeth have a natural tendency to shift back to their original positions over time. The rate at which they do this varies from person to person. However, teeth are always moving and even after a matter of days your teeth can move. This is where retainers come in, they help to maintain the new alignment of your teeth and prevent them from relapsing into their former misaligned positions. Orthodontic relapse refers to the gradual shifting or movement of teeth back to their pre-treatment positions after orthodontic treatments.

Stabilising bone and tissues
Orthodontic treatment not only aligns the teeth but also affects the surrounding bones and tissues that support them. Retainers provide stability to these structures, allowing them to adapt to the new positions of the teeth. Without retainers, there is a risk of bone and tissue regenerations, which can lead to relapse of the teeth.

Protecting your investment
Orthodontic treatment should be considered as a long-term investment in your oral health, general health and confidence. By using retainers as prescribed by your orthodontic provider, you are protecting this investment. Without proper retention, you may find yourself needing additional orthodontic treatment in the future to correct relapse, which can be both costly and time-consuming.

Preventing dental issues
Beyond maintaining the aesthetics of your smile, retainers also help to prevent potential dental issues that can arise from tooth misalignment and relapse. Misaligned teeth are more difficult to clean, making them prone to plaque build-up, tooth decay and gum disease. By wearing retainers, you are reducing the risk of these dental problems and therefore promoting better oral hygiene.

Retention plan
Your orthodontic clinician will create a customised retention plan tailored to your specific needs. This might include having fixed retainers placed and also being provided with removable retainers. The removable retainers should be worn fulltime initially and then transitioned to night-time wear as your teeth stabilise into the final positions. Following your clinician’s instructions diligently is crucial for the success of your retention of treatment.

Fixed retainers, also known as bonded retainers are thin metal wires typically bonded to the back surface of the upper and /or lower teeth. They are designed to hold the teeth in their new positions following orthodontic treatment. Fixed retainers are discreet and provide continuous retention without the need for patient compliance but they have limited long-term benefits.

Removable retainers are devices that are removed from the mouth for cleaning ad eating. They are usually constructed from plastic or acrylic. Removable retainers are custom-made to fit the patient’s mouth and must be worn indefinitely and are considered the best retention devices currently.

Long-term commitment
Retainers are not just for immediate post-treatment period; they are a long term and lifelong commitment. This ensures that the results of your orthodontic treatment remain stable throughout your lifetime.

In conclusion, retainers are an essential component of orthodontic treatment, playing a vital role in maintaining the results achieved through braces or Invisalign®, By wearing retainers as prescribed by your clinician, you are safeguarding the investment you have made in your smile and oral health. So, embrace your retainers as partners in preserving your newfound confidence and ensuring a lifetime of smiles.

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