It’s no secret that orthodontic treatment can give you a healthier, happier smile. It’s an incredible investment into your oral health, one that pays big dividends, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy! Here at Dietrich Orthodontics, we know how much hard work goes into successfully completing your treatment. You’ve got guidelines and recommendations to follow throughout your orthodontic journey, and there are several rules you need to be aware of for the best results. But here you are, with the finish line in sight at last!
You’ve done a great job of sticking to your treatment plan, and we’re proud of you for keeping your teeth healthy while we worked to straighten them. Now that the active phase of treatment is complete, there’s just one more to go: the retention phase. This will round out your orthodontic journey and keep your newly straightened smile in place! This is the perfect time to take a closer look at how retainers work, why they’re an essential part of any treatment plan, and the different types available. Keep reading below for more information on this orthodontic superstar!
Why are retainers so important, anyway?
In a perfect world, you’d complete orthodontic treatment and never have to think about your smile again. Sadly, that’s not the case. There’s a phenomenon known as relapse that we have to contend with! This describes the natural tendency our teeth have to drift back towards their original positions as we get older. Relapse usually begins in the late teens or early twenties, and it can occur even if you’ve gone through the orthodontic process. This is where retainers shine!
When it comes to holding your teeth in their new positions long-term, retainers are the most effective solution. During the active phase of treatment, Dr. Dietrich uses braces to place tension in and around your teeth. This facilitates the formation of new ligaments, tissue, and sometimes bone. Once this process is complete, we’ll need to give these some time to stabilize. Part of this takes place during the retention phase, and if there’s nothing to hold the teeth in place at this time, they’ll almost always find their way back to their old positions.
That may be a little too technical to fully understand, so we’ll state it more plainly here: if you don’t wear your retainer as recommended, your teeth will eventually begin shifting back to where they used to be. Given enough time, this can undo all your hard work! Fortunately, keeping your newly straightened teeth where they’re meant to be is as easy as wearing your retainer regularly.
What are the different types of retainers?
Once your braces come off, Dr. Dietrich will help you choose the best retainer for your smile. This will be based on your specific needs, your preferences, and the expected level of compliance. Here’s a look at the different types of retainers used.
Fixed (bonded/permanent) retainers consist of a thin wire that’s bonded behind the bottom and top teeth. Once treatment is complete, a fixed retainer can be used to keep it that way.
If you have a fixed retainer, you’ll need to brush and floss carefully to ensure it stays clean. Since the wire stretches across several teeth, dental hygiene is similar to what a patient in braces experiences. The bonded wire holds your teeth in the ideal alignment over a long time, so fixed retainers often have excellent and lasting outcomes. You won’t ever have to remember to wear them, either, which can be an added benefit.
There are a couple of different options available when it comes to removable retainers. Dr. Dietrich prefers the Essix retainer – or a clear removable retainer. When you complete your treatment, we’ll take an impression of your straightened teeth and use this to create your retainer.
Essix retainers are made entirely of transparent plastic and molded to the unique shape of the patient’s mouth. Essix retainers may cover the entire arch of the teeth or only go from one canine to the other. This type of retainer is very discreet and should last for as long as you need it, provided you take good care of it.
Removable retainers make it easier to maintain a healthy mouth, but you will have to remember to wear them daily. They’re also easier to lose or damage than other models, so you’ll need to be careful about where you put your retainer and how you handle it. Remember: If it’s not in your face, it’s in your case!
Keep your smile looking good for years to come with Dietrich Orthodontics
Did you know that in the first year post-treatment, your teeth can begin shifting back to their old positions in as little as a few days? If you don’t wear your retainer as directed, this drifting will continue, eventually undoing all your work. That’s why you must use your retainer exactly as directed by Dr. Dietrich. This will let you enjoy your incredible new smile for many years to come!
The latest orthodontic guidance tells us that most patients will need to wear some type of retainer indefinitely for the best results, but don’t let that worry you—your retainer will become part of your daily routine in no time at all. Do you have questions about retainers or the retention phase? Our expert team would love to hear from you! Get in touch with our Canton or Alliance office today and we’ll be happy to walk you through the process. You deserve nothing less than a lifetime of healthy smiles and we’re to get you started!