Importance of retainers after orthodontic treatment
You and your child have been waiting for that magical day when the braces come off and you can finally see the winning smile you've invested so much time and money into. They no longer have to limit certain foods to avoid problems with their braces, you don't have to worry about broken brackets and you will all enjoy the new photos with no braces!
However, all the work doesn't stop in its tracks when the braces come off. The importance of wearing a retainer after braces cannot be overstated.
All teeth move a little, but in the first two years after braces your teeth have the potential to move more. This can possibly undo all the straightening that the braces accomplished. It takes time for the bone and all the tissues around your teeth to reorganize and therefore it is necessary to use retainers until your bite stabilizes. In the first month after the braces are removed, the risk of relapse is very high. Relapse means that the teeth can take up to one year or more to stabilize after treatment. If you had gaps between your teeth before treatment, the retention period will be longer.
Your retainer preserves your investment and keeps your teeth from shifting back. In the first two years you will likely need to wear a retainer daily. You and your orthodontist can decide together when you can transition to wearing a retainer just while sleeping. You may eventually be able to wear the retainer just a few nights a week.
However, it is important to follow the protocol that is set for you. Otherwise you may find that five or 10 years after your braces come off you begin to have orthodontic problems again. It will be important to wear a retainer while you sleep as part of your normal, nightly habits. Remember that the confidence you feel when you smile is worth all the effort you put in to your continued retainer use. Removable retainers should be taken out during eating, contact sports and when you brush your teeth. To clean the retainers, remove them first and brush them in tap water using a toothbrush and some toothpaste. Brush your teeth after this.
The safest place for your retainers is in your mouth. If you are not using the retainers they should always be kept in a box. There is a great risk of losing retainers if they are wrapped in tissue paper after you remove them from your mouth.