Orthodontic Retainers – Why?!

Clear Orthodontic RetainerWhether your orthodontic retainer comes as a removable device or as a wire permanently attached behind your teeth, your retainer has a crucial job to do to ensure your smile remains as beautiful as the day your braces came off. Here are a few things the 307 Orthodontics team felt you should know about your orthodontic retainers!

1) There are multiple types of retainers out there.

Once upon a time, retainers were made of pink plastic and bent wire, and were removable. These beauties are still available — but a common alternative today is to have clear retainers that fit onto your teeth covering them entirely or to have thin wires bonded to the inside of the front teeth They don’t show, and you don’t have to worry about putting them in and taking them out. If you prefer, ask us whether this type of retainer would work for you.

2) Retainers keep your new smile looking the way it should.

After having braces to move your teeth into the desired position, a retainer is needed to keep them from moving right back where they were! In time, the periodontal (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) structures, which are constantly renewing themselves, will adapt to their new positions, and the teeth will stabilize.

3) It takes several months for your teeth to become stable in their new arrangement.

Teeth must be held in position long enough for the bone and ligament that attaches them to the jaw to re-form and mature around them. A retainer helps avoid trauma as the teeth and associated structures are adjusting to relocation, allowing the process to end slowly and gently. The longer and more often you wear your retainer, the more stable your teeth become. The most crucial time for your retainer is the months following the removal of your braces. (Example: If you broke your arm, would you expect a 100% healed result in a short period of time if you only wore your cast at night time? Your teeth need as much support as they can get too, to maintain that picture perfect smile position!)

4) Even when they’re stable, your teeth are always in a “dynamic” state.

Some of you may have heard Dr. Erickson answer the question “How long do I have to wear my retainer?” with the response “As long as you want your teeth to stay straight”. There is some “memory” inherent in bone and gum tissue, which tends to cause teeth to shift back to their former positions after treatment. But teeth aren’t held in place just by bone and ligament — a balance between the forces of the lips, cheeks and tongue also helps them stay put. This balance changes over a period of time.

5) The movement of teeth is unique to each person, and is not predictable.

Contrary to what orthodontists used to believe, there is no “right” position for the teeth that assures they will stay in place permanently. In time, the position of the teeth may change due to a slow “uprighting” movement of the front teeth in the lower jaw, which causes them to crowd as they move toward the tongue. Other factors may also cause a gradual movement of the teeth. But if you remember to follow your 307 teams’ recommendations; they will help keep your smile looking its best.

If you would like more information about orthodontic retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation today!

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