Retainers – keep smiling for a lifetime
by Dr. Brian Bartlett
Everyone looks forward to the day they get their braces off. It is an exciting day for you, as well as your family and friends! You have worked hard to take care of your braces, keep your teeth and gums healthy, and possibly wear rubber bands or other devices to improve your bite. With all of the hardware out of your mouth, you are now able to show off your new beautiful and healthy smile with confidence. And you are also able to eat the sticky and crunchy foods you have been avoiding while in braces. This is a day to celebrate!
We share in this great excitement and wish you a lifetime of enjoying your new smile. But just because your braces have come off doesn’t mean all your work is finished. Straightening your teeth is relatively easy. Keeping your teeth straight is the real challenge! So in order to keep your teeth straight and preserve your beautiful smile, we make custom fitted retainers for you on the day your braces come off.
We recommend you wear your removable retainers full-time (except when eating and brushing) for the first three months after braces come off. After 3 months, your teeth and gums have typically stabilized to the point that you can transition to wearing your retainers only at night – but indefinitely. That means forever.
Research has shown that there is no magic number of months or years that you can wear your retainers and then expect your teeth to stay straight. At various times throughout your life, there will be an imbalance of pressures applied to your teeth from your cheeks and lips and tongue – all of these pressures can cause your teeth to shift. And for people who clench or grind their teeth together (due to stress or other reasons), teeth can also shift. In order to prevent this shifting in the future, retainers MUST be worn.
Crazy right? Retainers forever?! Over this past holiday season, we saw many of our former patients who were home from college. We love to catch up with our former patients and hear their stories. Some of them have retainers that are cracked and need to be replaced. Others have retainers that look like new and are still wearing them every night. Unfortunately, some of them have stopped wearing their retainers.
Every week – not just over the holidays – we see teenage and adult patients who have stopped wearing their retainers, perhaps because they were lost or damaged or they have simply forgotten. And every one of these patients is disappointed to see that their teeth shifted. The high number of former and new patients we see who come in with the concern of shifting and requiring retreatment is preventable!
Ensure that your smile on the day your braces come off lasts a lifetime. Remember to wear your retainers as prescribed and keep them safe. And if you lose them or they wear out, please do not delay in coming back to see us for replacement retainers.
At Mitchell, Bartlett and Bell Orthodontics, we want to help you achieve a healthy beautiful smile and preserve your smile for years to come! We are a family friendly practice that treats children, teens and adults. Learn more about us here and call us today at either of our 2 convenient locations: Greensboro or Kernersville or click below to schedule a complimentary consultation. We can’t wait to meet you!