Posted on December 7, 2021
There is evidence of people suffering from crooked teeth and misaligned jaws since at least 400 BCE (per the AAO). While rudimentary treatments existed even back then, thankfully today orthodontic services are much more reliable and much less painful. If you are currently in the process of straightening your teeth or have just completed treatment, your orthodontist may have fitted you for a retainer and insisted that you wear it. However, it can be easy to forget about and unfortunately, this can have negative consequences.
A retainer is an orthodontic device that is used to keep your teeth from shifting back to their crooked positions once they have been straightened. Your retainer will be custom-made for you, and it is a critical component for ensuring that your smile stays as straight as possible.
Although you may think getting your braces off is the end of your need for orthodontic services, that notion is incorrect. Even after treatment, your teeth are still at risk for shifting back to their original positions without something to keep them in place. This is what a retainer does, it “retains” new positions of your teeth.
Because teeth can shift back, especially within the first 18 months after treatment, it’s important to wear your retainer as directed by your orthodontist until they are more firmly set into place and adjusted. By taking care to wear your retainer, you can help ensure that your months — if not years — of treatment, aren’t wasted so that your new smile will last a lifetime.
How long you will need to wear your retainer will depend on how long it has been since your braces have been removed. Immediately after, you will need to wear your retainer as directed by your orthodontist. Failing to do so for even a couple of days won’t necessarily cause significant issues, but it can lead to a pattern of forgetfulness that ultimately leads to you needing more straightening in the future.
In most cases, you will need to wear your retainer as much as possible for the first three to six months after your braces are taken off. After this, you should continue wearing them nightly for the next one to three years. Once this milestone has passed, wearing it a couple of nights out of the week is usually enough to suffice, although you should always speak to your orthodontist before making the change.
If you currently have braces or have just had them removed, keep in mind the importance of wearing your retainer as directed. Failing to do so can result in needing more orthodontic services in the future and undoing all of your hard work up to this point.
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