For some teenagers, hearing that they need to get braces isn’t the best news. They know that in the long-term braces are going to straighten their teeth and improve their smile, but teenagers are not known for their long-term planning ability. What they are concerned about is the here and now. They are concerned about how braces are going to impact their appearance. Because of this, one of the most popular questions teenagers will ask our orthodontist is how long it will take until the braces come off.
For this reason, it can be disheartening to a teenager to realize that even though the braces have come off, they will still need to wear a retainer for the next few years. However, once the orthodontist explains the important role that the retainer plays, most feel less discouraged.
The truth is that regardless of if a person had metal braces or if they used clear braces, they will need to use a retainer. The amount of time that a person needs to wear the device will diminish over the years. In the first few months after having the braces removed, the orthodontist may recommend that the patient wears it between 12 and 22 hours every single day. The amount of time a patient will use the retainer will vary depending on how severe the initial problem the braces were fixing was, how old they are and whether or not the orthodontist is using it as a way to finalize the position of the corrected teeth.
Most patients will only need to consistently wear a retainer for the first three to six months. Once this period has passed, the orthodontist may recommend that a patient only use it at night. After the first year to 18 months, the orthodontist may tell the patient that they only need to wear their retainer every other night while they sleep. A patient will usually need to continue to use it for the rest of their lives.
The reason for this is that if a patient does not consistently use their retainer, it is possible that their straight teeth will revert to being crooked once again. This is because of biology. Our teeth are adhered to our jaw bone. When our teeth move as a result of using braces, the bone around them becomes soft. Once the tooth is in its final position, new bone grows around it to help it stay in the new position.
This entire process can take up to a year. It’s during this time that a patient is using their retainer frequently. This device is helping your teeth to stay in the proper position while the bone grows.
But a person might ask, “Why do I need to wear the retainer once my teeth are locked in place?” This is because as we age, our teeth slowly shift. It is a very slow process, but it is one that definitely happens. A retainer will keep your teeth in the right position for the rest of your life.
For more information regarding your orthodontic care, visit Pack Orthodontics, with locations in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro. Our staff is more than willing to answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.