Your orthodontist has removed your braces or he is planning to do so shortly? It is a great feeling indeed as it finally put an end to your long treatment. However a lot of people may feel let down when they come to know that they will have to go through another orthodontic treatment – the retainer. There are several reasons behind this second step of aligning your teeth. If you are one of them, the first question that might strike your mind is “how long will I have to wear this retainer?”
Retainers are usually easier to handle and you might have to wear them for some time. The time you need to wear a retainer depends on several factors including your age, the degree of alignment and tooth conditions such as infection or deformity. If you refuse to wear it, there are good chances that you may undo some of the progress made by you and your orthodontist.
A retainer is a custom made device of wires and clear plastic that is used to hold teeth in position after any method of realignments such as braces or dental surgery.
After completion of your orthodontic treatment, the cheekbone and gums are not yet able to keep your teeth firmly in place. Activities like chewing and speaking help strengthen the gum and bone, however, it usually takes a considerable time. To speed up this process and enhance the results of orthodontic treatment, most dentists recommend a retainer to hold the teeth in their final position. Without this device, the failure rate of the realignment procedure is very high as their absence would slowly begin to slide your teeth in original position – making your efforts of realignment just a big waste of time and money.
The bones and tissues are not strengthened enough to hold your teeth in position, especially in the initial months after treatment. It leads to a higher chance of drifting your teeth out of alignment. This is where a retainer comes handy.
Preferably, you need to wear the retainer all the time, except for the time of eating. The initial few months are crucial to maintaining your new smile. In some patients, this relapse period varies and can be as long as a year.
A rule of thumb in this scenario is that you may need your retainer for a little longer time than you have spent wearing braces for realignment. For example, if you have your braces on for the past two years, your retainer may take 2.5 or 3 years to lock your teeth in the final position. The convenience, however, is that you can taper back from full time in the initial months to a few nights in a week.
Importantly, a retainer is meant to hold your teeth in position so they don’t need any adjustment after your treatment is completed. It would be great to wear a retainer device during night hours to preserve the precious smile you have earned over a long period of struggle.