Retainer After Braces
Orthodontic treatments may follow a single or double phase. Single phase treatments proceed straight to the use of dental braces and end there; double phase treatments, often more complicated, usually begin with the use of removable appliances to prepare the teeth for the second phase, which is the dental braces. Both types of orthodontic treatments, regardless of how they proceed and how fast they go, all treatments are concluded with the use of dental retainers. Retainers, either removable or fixed, are worn as soon as the braces are removed and they are worn for a minimum of three years or may be worn longer than that. They are worn, until the teeth have properly stabilized within the jaw, and they are worn rather responsibly (permitting no way around it).
Options for Retainer After Braces
After dental braces, the use of retainers will be essential, at least if your want to preserve the results of the treatment. The retainers, available in various designs, should stabilize the teeth in place:
- Hawley’s Retainers: The most common type of retainers are those the Hawley’s type, with an acrylic base that holds the wires that maintains the shape of the arch. They are constructed on the upper and lower arch and when they are worn, they are tight enough to keep the new position of the teeth.
- Hawley’s Retainers with Artificial Teeth: This design is much like the traditional retainers that are often prescribed to patients but they are fitted with artificial teeth to fill gaps within the jaw. When the spaces cannot be closed by braces, the retainers are fitted with teeth so that the space is maintained up until the time that the patient is ready to have a fixed prosthesis (dental bridge or dental implant). More of a provisional denture, the addition of artificial teeth maintains the new position of the teeth and the spaces within the jaw, as well.
- Fixed Lingual Retainers: For patients who couldn’t be bothered wearing and removing their retainers, they can opt for a fixed alternative. The wires which are shaped to follow the lingual surface of the teeth, are bonded to the teeth. They are placed at the back, so they are rather invisible but given where they are, they are quite prone to plaque accumulation.
- Invisible Retainers: The invisible retainers are much like Invisalign® trays. The retainers are made of clear plastic and when they are worn in the mouth, they hold the teeth in place, preventing movement or relapse.
Why Patients Need A Retainer After Braces
Not a lot of patients understand how useful a retainer after braces is. As a matter of fact, some people would make a choice not to wear their retainers after treatment. They think that the braces, wires and rubber bands have suffocated their mouth for very long so they would rather have a mouth that is completely free. The teeth look perfect already — the teeth are straight and the patient’s smile looks beautiful, why do you have to wear more things in your mouth?
Well, to answer that question you need understand what really happens in the patient’s mouth during an orthodontic treatment. First of all, the brackets are attached on every single tooth and through the slots a wires is inserted into. The wires are shaped perfectly, so the teeth should follow this brand new arrangement and this is possible when rubbers used to hold these two things together. One their own, the brackets, wires and rubber bands mean and do nothing special — but when brought together, they are able to move teeth albeit in small moves but it eventually rearranges the teeth perfectly.
For teeth to be moved, the pressure initiated by the braces breaks bone to accommodate the new position; for the teeth to be stabilized in its new place, bone will have to be built around the teeth.
After braces, the teeth may be in the right place but the bone may not be sufficient enough to support the teeth yet, so retainers are important. The new position of the teeth are merely held by the fibers that have been stretched; when the braces are removed and retainers are not worn, these fibers will ricochet back to place, causing a relapse.
When relapses occur, the results of the orthodontic treatment are wasted because the teeth move back to their original position. If you want to avoid this from happening; and if you want to protect the investment you made, you will need to responsibly wear the retainer after braces.