It’s a very exciting day when a teenager is able to get their braces taken off. However, they may be surprised when the orthodontist hands them another apparatus. Yes, the braces have come off, but now you have to wear a retainer.
The very first question that a lot of teenagers ask their orthodontist when he or she hands them a retainer is, “Why?” They just got their braces off, so why do they need to wear a retainer? The simple fact is that once orthodontic treatments are finished, a retainer is the only thing that can hold your teeth in their new position.
Once the teenager understands why they need to wear a retainer, the next question relates to how often they have to wear it. The honest answer is that it takes time. The bone and the tissue that surround your teeth need time to reorganize. Your teeth have been in a crooked position for many years, and so the bone and tissue around your teeth are accustomed to being in that position and want to return to it. If a teenager does not wear their retainer during the first months after the braces are removed, they have an extremely high chance of their teeth returning to their previous crooked position.
If a teenager does not use their retainer in a faithful way, their teeth will move back to their original position, and they will need to wear braces again to correct them. In most cases, a retainer is worn for as long as the patient used braces. This means that if it took two years to straighten your teeth, you’re going to need to wear a retainer for two years.
Retainers come in different shapes and sizes. Some are removable, and some are fixed to the back and front of the patient’s teeth. In most cases, you will need to use your retainer full-time for the first six months after braces. Once the first six months have passed, you may only need to wear it at night. If our orthodontist decides that you need a fixed retainer, then it should be kept in place for at least five years.
As any teenager knows, getting braces is a journey. However, the results are so worth it. Having straight teeth and a beautiful smile can open so many doors of opportunity as you go through life. Wearing a retainer is just a mild inconvenience when compared to the benefits of having straight and attractive teeth.
Just as every person’s smile is unique, each patient’s retention plan is different. During an appointment at Petty, Bielik and Burke Orthodontics, our well-trained orthodontist can help you determine a plan of action for your smile after your braces come off. We have offices in Frankfort and Oak Lawn. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.