After orthodontic treatment, we give our patients a set of retainers. Retainers are appliances that keep the teeth in place once the braces are removed or Invisalign treatment is completed. Retainer wear is essential in ensuring a successful long-term result.
I often get asked by patients “How long do I need to wear retainers for?” I usually answer this question by posing another question: “Well, how long do you want straight teeth?” Wearing retainers is a lifelong commitment. Unfortunately, your initial tooth positions are the most stable. With braces or Invisalign, we are moving your teeth to different places to make them easier to clean and to look or function better. If nothing is used to retain the teeth, they will want to return to their previous positions.
This natural tendency for teeth to want to “relapse” is highest during the period immediately after orthodontic treatment. Therefore, retainer wear is often heavily prescribed during this period. It is important to come see the orthodontist during your scheduled retention appointments to make sure that everything is stabilizing well.
As time progresses, it is usually possible to wean off retainer wear somewhat; however, everyone is different. I usually tell my patients to be their own judge. If they don’t wear their retainer for one night, and it is tight the following night, they need to keep on wearing it every night.
Permanent fixed retainers that I glue to the back of the lower teeth (and sometimes upper) stay on indefinitely. They may require maintenance to patch up some glue once every few years but are very good at keeping teeth in position. It is essential to floss underneath them to prevent gum disease. Those that choose not to have a fixed retainer can get a removable one but that does require diligence as well since it needs to be worn. Orthodontic relapse is generally more common with removable retainers.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact our orthodontic office. We are conveniently located at the confluence of Thornhill Woods, Vaughan, Maple, Richmond Hill, Woodbridge, Oak Ridges, King City, and Kleinburg.