When your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to “hold” your teeth in their new positions. You will wear your retainer for as long as it takes for your teeth to settle into a better occlusion (bite) and for your bones, gums and muscles to adapt to your new dental arrangement. If your retainer breaks, stop wearing it and call the office as soon as possible, so that your retainer can be repaired or replaced. We will also evaluate your wisdom teeth during this retention period. Contemporary Orthodontics acknowledges the fact that long-term retention is often the best option to ensure the stability of the new alignment of your teeth. In other words, it is necessary for you to wear your retainers indefinitely to have a lifetime of straight teeth.
Teeth have a tendency to change their positions after treatment. The more pronounced the malalignment of the teeth or depth of the bite, the more likely it is that there may be some shifting or “relapse” of the teeth or bite to their original position. This minor degree of relapse generally enhances normal settling of the individual tooth positions and will stabilize the bite. The lower front teeth have the greatest tendency to relapse. In certain instances, we over-correct some teeth in anticipation of movement during the retention period. However, some relapse may occur despite our best efforts and your conscientious cooperation in wearing your retainers.
Throughout life, the bite can change adversely due to the eruption of wisdom teeth, mouth breathing and other oral habits. Later in life, adverse bone growth, the normal aging process and other maturational changes are out of the control of the orthodontist.