It’s near the end of your orthodontic journey. Your braces have been removed. You don’t need to receive more clear aligners. Dr. Davis, Dr. Goldberg, or Dr. Seitz at Davis & Goldberg Orthodontics has placed a permanent retainer in your mouth or has outfitted you for a removable one.
A retainer is essential to the orthodontic process. If you’re discouraged about completing active treatment only to be given a retainer, we encourage you to keep reading. Learning about the retention process and how it benefits you can help you feel more excited about your retainer(s).
What happens in the mouth during active treatment?
Whether you use braces or clear aligners, gentle pressure is applied to your teeth to urge teeth shifting. That pressure causes a process called bone remodeling. Essentially, the bones and ligaments in your jaw that anchor the teeth in place break down or soften. This process is what allows the teeth to move!
When is active treatment over?
Active treatment ends when we are satisfied with the placement of your teeth. However, the teeth can’t be left entirely alone just yet because the ligaments need time to stabilize, and the bones are still adjusting.
If you’re wondering why we removed your braces or did not make new clear aligners for you if the teeth weren’t ready for “freedom,” we’ll tell you! Braces and clear aligners are designed to apply pressure to the teeth continuously. That consistent pressure is how we keep the teeth moving and make orthodontic care more comfortable. When the teeth are in the desired locations, we must conclude active treatment to relieve that pressure and prevent unwanted teeth movement. This is when the retention process begins, and you’ll be issued your custom retainer!
What is a retainer?
A retainer is a piece of orthodontic equipment that holds the teeth in their new homes as the mouth becomes accustomed to its updated layout.
Retainers that are bonded behind the teeth are called fixed retainers. These can only be removed by an orthodontic professional. Other retainers, such as the Hawley or Essix styles, are called removable retainers and should be taken out by the patient for eating, drinking, and oral hygiene.
Each type and style has pros and cons, and Dr. Davis, Dr. Goldberg, and Dr. Seitz will discuss them all with you when the time is right. With their help, you can easily narrow it down to the option best for you and your lifestyle.
Why do I need one?
Despite what names like “Wisdom Teeth,” imply, teeth don’t have brains that can think! Even still, they do have fantastic memories. Teeth remember their original spots as if they were there just yesterday. Because they don’t know or understand why they’ve been moved from those spots, they will try to return to them! This is known as regression, and it can take as little as one day to notice a visible difference in teeth placement.
Unlike braces or clear aligners, retainers do not apply pressure to the teeth but instead restricts their movement to prevent regression.
Retainers are crucial to preserving all your hard work during active treatment! If you have a removable retainer, you need to wear it as instructed. Neglecting or forgetting to wear it can prompt a restart in active treatment!
How long do I need to wear it?
Patients with fixed retainers should discuss the longevity of their device and the duration of its use with Dr. Davis, Dr. Goldberg, or Dr. Seitz.
In the beginning, you will likely need your removable retainer 24/7. If you have a removable retainer, your orthodontist will slowly taper the number of hours down until you only need it nightly or a couple of times a week.
Teeth can shift at any time for various reasons, so chances are you will need your retainer for the rest of your life. The good news is that they are built to last if adequately cared for. The even better news is that they are super easy to maintain! Ask your orthodontist for specific care instructions when you receive your retainer.
Let Davis & Goldberg Orthodontics handle your retainer needs!
Transitioning into the retention phase can be confusing and frustrating initially, but it doesn’t have to be!
We work hard at Davis & Goldberg Orthodontics to preserve your new teeth and jaw alignment. We know you will, too, once you have all the applicable information! Our experienced and dedicated staff has the skills and knowledge necessary to transform your smile and your life. To learn more about active treatment and retainers or to get your own retainer, contact us to speak to a tram member or book an appointment at one of our two convenient locations! We would love to speak with you and answer all your questions!