While the amount of time each of our patients spends in braces varies according to the complexity of their case, the verdict is “one size fits all” when it comes to how long they wear a retainer. That’s because today, most orthodontists agree retainers must be worn for life to retain the results of orthodontic treatment.
What is a retainer?
A retainer is an orthodontic appliance fashioned from metal or plastic that is used to hold teeth in position following treatment or surgery to correct misalignments.
Types of retainers include:
- Clear plastic- These thin plastic retainers are customized to fit over your teeth and are similar in appearance to Invisalign aligners.
- Fixed bonded- A wire is bonded to the back of your teeth for 24/7 relapse prevention. This style is most commonly used for the lower teeth and can be worn for months to years.
- Hawley- The Hawley retainer is composed of metal and acrylic. The thin acrylic portion is formed to fit the roof of your mouth just behind your teeth, and anchors a metal wire that runs along the fronts of your teeth to hold them in place.
Why do we need retainers?
The science of moving teeth is relatively straightforward: your orthodontist uses braces to apply consistent, targeted pressure to each tooth, which will eventually loosen your teeth and allow them to move. It takes approximately 72 hours to loosen teeth so the process of realigning them can begin, 90 days of holding teeth in place with a retainer for the bone surrounding them to set, and 10 months of retainer wear for bone to stabilize. This is why it is vital that you adhere to proper retainer wear for the first 10-12 months following treatment.
But if it only takes 10 months to stabilize a smile, why are retainers for life?
The need to wear your retainer for the rest of your life is due to the innate nature of your teeth to move forward and inward as you age.
How long do you have to wear your retainer?
We often prescribe a fixed retainer for the bottom teeth and a removable retainer for the top teeth, which should be worn nightly for 10-12 months.
After one year, you will need to wear your retainer three to five nights per week to maintain your results. Even during this time, you will likely notice your retainer feels somewhat snug when you go two to three days without wearing it.
Have you experienced relapse from not adhering to retainer wear?
If so, a new retainer won’t be enough to realign your teeth. The good news is that thanks to advances in technology, we may be able to straighten your teeth using fast-track braces in as few as six months!
Are you an adult looking for an orthodontist on Park Ave. who can help correct your relapse from childhood braces? A parent who thinks they see early signs of a malocclusion in your child’s smile? Dr. Bronsky can help with whatever problem you are experiencing, and is happy to answer all of your questions during an initial consultation. Call today!