Ahh, your braces are finally off! You can now reap the benefits of the long months of wearing braces and attending regular orthodontic visits. Finally, the perfect smile you always wanted is yours!
However, while we dislike being the bearers of bad news, your orthodontic treatment is not quite yet over. Yes, you do get to enjoy a beautiful, straight smile, but you still have a little bit of work to do to maintain your hard-won grin.
A retainer is a tool utilized after braces are removed to stabilize the teeth and bite as they adjust to your desired position. Because of their solid long-term memory, teeth have the uncanny tendency to return to their original positions once the brace support is removed. Retainers take the place of braces as temporary support to keep everything in its treated place until the bone and ligaments reform. If you don’t wear your retainer as directed, your teeth and bite will regress to their original states, rendering your previous orthodontic treatment useless. So, let’s examine the consequences of improperly wearing your retainer.
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WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY NEWLY STRAIGHTENED TEETH IF I DON’T WEAR MY RETAINER?
You may be asking, What happens if I do not wear my retainer? You may be surprised to know that braces are only half of the tooth-straightening process. The other half of orthodontic treatment occurs while wearing your retainer after you get your braces removed.
To keep your teeth straight, it is critical that you use your retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist. Neglecting to wear your retainer as instructed poses the risk of losing the smile you worked so hard to achieve as it may shift back to its original, crooked position.
#1: YOUR TEETH WILL UNDERGO AN ORTHODONTIC RELAPSE PROCESS
By misplacing your retainer or simply no longer using it as prescribed, you will begin to undergo a relapse process. After only a month or so of misusing a retainer, a patient’s mouth will begin to return to its original state. Whatever orthodontic misalignment was treated before the lengthy orthodontic care will return. For example, if you were treated for an overbite, your jaw may return to its pre-treatment alignment with your teeth pushing forward.
Once the relapse process has begun, a retainer will most likely fail to fit properly. An improperly fitting retainer may cause pain as it sits oddly on your teeth, pulling them in different directions. Eventually, your retainer will not be able to fit around your teeth anymore. Once this occurs, you will have to return to your orthodontist to get fitted for a new retainer.
WILL MY TEETH SHIFT AFTER NOT WEARING MY RETAINER FOR A WEEK?
Unfortunately, your teeth will begin shifting back to their initial place right after the removal of your brace treatment. While the speed and severity of the shift differ for everyone, even the slightest shift can impact the fit of your retainer. As such, you must wear retainers at night during the first week after removing your braces to prevent the teeth from immediately relapsing.
I HAVEN’T WORN MY RETAINER CONSISTENTLY FOR A MONTH: WHAT TO DO?
After a month of not wearing your retainer, you will probably notice a change in your bite and experience movement in your teeth toward their original state. Your best option is to schedule another appointment with your orthodontist to get fitted for a new retainer. You might also need to wear your new retainer throughout the day and at night to make up for the regression in your orthodontic treatment.
#2: YOUR BITE WILL ALSO CHANGE
While the job of braces and aligners is to adjust your teeth, wearing your retainer is an essential step to holding oral adjustments. If you fail to use your retainers as directed, the entire work performed by the braces and aligners may fall apart.
After the removal of your braces, the soft tissue and bone in your mouth need adequate time to adapt to their new alignment. Retainers help to slowly stabilize the new oral arrangement, preventing them from shifting out of their newly established positions. Without the integral stabilization of a retainer, your bite will regress, and any previous overbites or underbites will remerge.
#3: YOU MIGHT HAVE TO REPEAT YOUR ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT ALTOGETHER!
You must wear retainers consistently if you wish to maintain your perfectly straight teeth after braces. Neglecting your retainer for a month or so might require you to repeat your orthodontic treatment altogether! Once your teeth shift, it is too late to return to your beautiful smile without visiting an orthodontist and reapplying braces. This is certainly a worst-case scenario that you should try your best to avoid. While wearing your retainers may be a difficult habit to establish at first, it is definitely worth it in the long run!
WEARING YOUR RETAINER IS THE SAFEST WAY TOWARD TREATMENT PROGRESS!
Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if you think that retainers may be a solution to your child’s dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of retainers or simply have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (703) 858-0303 or send us a message through our Contact Us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a free consultation! Our office, located at 19465 Deerfield Ave, Suite 304, Leesburg, VA 20176, proudly serves not just Loudoun County but also the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Ashburn, Lansdowne, or Sterling, and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Virginia, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health, and follow us on social media to become a part of our smiling community!