It’s really exciting when your braces finally come off, but it's important to know that it's not all over yet.
If you don't give your new, straight smile the support it needs, your teeth could start to shift back to their old positions, undoing all your hard work and requiring another treatment. You may be able to prevent this by wearing a retainer for as long as your dentist or orthodontist thinks is needed for your new smile to settle in.
Orthodontic treatment forces your teeth to move from their original position – which may be crooked, improperly aligned or causing other problems – into a new, straighter position. While this is great for your smile and your oral health, your teeth are still used to the old position and may start to move back if they're not prevented from doing so.
This doesn't always happen, of course. Your dentist or orthodontist will explain your situation to you, particularly if you’re at greater risk of your teeth shifting back into place. For instance, orthodontic relapse is more likely if there's space for the teeth to shift into, which can particularly be a problem if you lose a tooth or if a wisdom tooth needs to be extracted.
When your orthodontic treatment is complete and you’ve got a new smile, your dentist or orthodontist may decide to prescribe a retainer. They’ll explain how long you have to wear it before your new smile is secure and unlikely to shift again.
Retainers may be fixed or removable, worn only at night or at all times, and may only be needed on the upper teeth, the lower teeth or both. If you chose a discreet orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign®, your retainer will be similarly discreet, made from clear plastic that's less visible in your mouth.
It's also vital to look after your oral hygiene so you can prevent problems such as tooth decay or gum disease that can affect the outcome of orthodontics. If you lose a tooth to decay or injury, you may wish to talk to your dentist about restorative treatments such as an implant*, bridge or denture to prevent the neighbouring teeth from shifting.
If your teeth start to move, you may wish to make an appointment to see your dentist or orthodontist. The sooner an orthodontic relapse is caught, the less time it should take to correct.
There could be other reasons for your teeth shifting. It may be that a wisdom tooth has started to erupt and is causing crowding, or your retainer may be faulty or damaged. All of these situations need the attention of your orthodontic provider.
If you're thinking about orthodontic treatment to fix crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, talk to Dr Don Kelly at Face Value Dental in Brisbane CBD. We'll discuss all the options we offer for adults and children, so you can decide which treatment is right for you.
Call us now on (07 3221 0677 or contact us online.
*Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.