As a well known clinician always tells his patients: “Your Orthodontic Treatment does not suddenly finish the day we remove your braces. It is merely beginning of the next phase, ideally lasting the rest of your life, and this is called Retention”.
After months or even years of treatment obtaining the smile you always wished for, we cannot stress too strongly the importance of guarding your achievement by closely observing the requirements of good retention.
It is an unfortunate fact that teeth will generally always attempt to return to where they started, and unless measures are taken to prevent this, all your hard work will have been in vain.
Statistics show that of all the many millions of courses of orthodontics undertaken, as many as 75% will eventually relapse unless physically prevented from doing so.
There are many clearly documented reasons for this, but to keep things simple:
- Teeth are supported in the Jaws by a network of elastic fibres, that stretch to accommodate changes. Unfortunately, these elastic fibres can take many years to re form to a new “neutral” position, and during this phase the teeth are effectively always under an elastic force trying to return them to their original position. This is particularly prevalent on teeth that required “rotations” in order to achieve alignment in the first instance.
- With time, there is a natural tendency for teeth to ‘migrate forwards”, which can lead to noticeable “bunching up” of teeth towards the front of the mouth. This is particularly evident on the lower jaw, even if no actual Orthodontic treatment was ever undertaken.
So what does this actually mean in real life?
It means that if you want straight teeth for the rest of your life, you are going to have to wear some kind of “retainer”.
So what are your options as far as retainer options go?
Over the course of more than thirty years clinical experience in straightening teeth, I have seen fashions come and fashions go, and seen different approaches applied in different countries. Ultimately however it boils down to “What would suit your particular needs the most- something “fixed” or something “removable”, or perhaps even a combination of them both?
Our information sheet “Retainers- What are my choices” attempts to set out many of the more commonly available retainer types, and explain the pros and cons of each of them. Frequently however in the end it boil down to personal preferences, and our typical retention regime takes this in to account, with the actual retainer type chosen often changing from the early stages shortly after treatment completion, to a more acceptable long term solution once one or two methods have been tried and evaluated.