When braces are removed, teeth have a tendency to move to their original position. In the first month without your braces, the risk of relapse is high. Relapse means that anything that the braces corrected (spaces, crowding, crooked teeth etc.) can be undone if left unattended. Hence, retainers are made and placed the day after your braces have been removed.
Retainers are custom made appliances used to keep your teeth in place after your braces have been removed. Here at Sable and Pepicelli Orthodontists, we use three types of retainers: Hawley, Essix and bonded retainers. Your orthodontist will determine which one or combination of these is best suited to your case. Hawley retainers have your classic ‘plate’ type appearance; they are constructed of rigid acrylic and very durable. Essix retainers are a clear plastic retainer, moulded to the shape of your teeth. Bonded retainers are the ‘wires’ (actually a thin chain) that are glued to the inside of your teeth.
Although some people think that the removal of braces means the conclusion of orthodontic treatment, this is incorrect. Retainers will be given to you after your braces are removed to ultimately retain the position of your teeth in the long term; keeping in mind that braces are only removed with the approval of the orthodontist when they are sure that the teeth are in the most ideal position possible. After braces are removed, the teeth need time to stabilise and to maintain their position in the mouth. Your orthodontist will see you every few months once you are in the retention phase of your treatment, and will determine how your retainers should be worn depending on the treatment provided. Retainers are used full-time for the first few months and then gradually reduced as the teeth start to stabilise. They will then be worn in bed at night time only, ideally for the rest of your life, to maintain your beautiful new smile!
By Simon Huynh – Orthodontic Therapist