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Retainers – Your Lifelong Friends
Posted on 04/09/2015

Retainers – Your Lifelong Friends

7d54b50f0c4648b631fbc3f405b5a747At our Affiliated Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics offices, routine orthodontic examinations on children are often accompanied by questions from parents regarding retainers. How long do they need to wear them? What do they look like? And, often pointing at their own teeth, can they stop their teeth getting crooked into adulthood? The standard answer that gets right to the point is: “Your child should wear their retainers as long as they want their teeth to stay straight.” No, you don’t need to wear retainers every night of your life, but they should be worn on a regular basis for many years after an initial stabilization period.

Why Are My Front Teeth Crowded Again?

Most young adults notice that their lower front teeth may start to change position and get slightly crowded in their late teens and early twenties. The cause of this re-crowding is likely a combination of two factors. First, wisdom teeth often try to force their way into a tight position in the back of the mouth and disrupt the alignment in the front. Secondly, research has shown a period of slight late lower jaw growth during this time that may slightly shift the bite.

What Can I Do To Prevent My Straight Teeth From Moving?

For those out there who have recently had their braces removed, follow the retention guidelines given to you by your orthodontist. Wear your retainers regularly, and do not take a “retainer vacation” and skip many nights in a row expecting things to have remained stable. Many have attempted this risky maneuver and failed miserably; unable to force their retainers back in their mouth and recover. Others have taken the risk and broken all the rules and maintain their perfect bites. Remember, these individuals are the exception to the rule.

My Teeth Have Already Shifted! What Can I Do Now?

If your teeth have already shifted and your retainers cannot fit any more, you essentially have three options.

Option 1: Simply let it go and stop worrying about it. We can’t all have straight teeth! While many people choose this option and decide against any treatment, this may not be the best choice for the long-term health of your teeth. Straight, properly functioning teeth provide a better opportunity to maintain healthy gums and minimize wear and tear during normal function.

Option 2: Hold everything as it is! Have new retainers made to maintain the current position of the teeth and prevent further shifting. This is a good option to consider if movement has not been considerable and the patient is not interested in any active correction of the changes that have occurred.

Option 3: Fix it and never forget to wear your retainers again! Many adults (young and old) have re-entered the orthodontic office for re-treatment. These individuals are very committed to wearing their retainers to maintain their results the second time around. Many different treatment options may be available including:

  • Full-time retainers with springs to move individual teeth
  • Removable Invisalign aligners (worn full-time)
  • Braces on a limited number of teeth
  • Or full braces, if a significant amount of shifting has occurred.

Get Your Questions Answered Today!

If you think you might benefit from an evaluation, consult with your local orthodontist today! The orthodontists at Affiliated Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics are here to give you all of the information you need to make the best decision for your smile. Contact us today to ask questions! The more you understand the information being presented to you, the better you will feel about the decisions you will make.