Having your braces removed is an exciting moment, but before you run off into the sunset with your beautifully straight teeth, it’s important to know that without retainers they could move. No one wants that, especially you. So it’s really important to wear your retainers devotedly as instructed by your orthodontist.
Why do teeth move after braces?
During orthodontic treatment your teeth are held in position by your braces, but once they’re removed, stretched elastic fibres in the gum try to pull the teeth back to their original position – something we call “orthodontic relapse”. It takes time for these fibres to remodel and stop pulling on the teeth.
Continued growth of the jaws can also encourage the teeth to move once treatment has been completed. To help avoid orthodontic relapse we provide our patients with retainers, which hold the teeth in their new position.
You’re most at risk of relapse just after your braces have been removed, then over time your teeth will begin to stabilise. But this doesn’t mean you can stop wearing your retainer after a few months. To guarantee your teeth stay put, retainers are a lifelong commitment – thankfully they’re both comfortable and discreet.
We provide a set of removable retainers to every patient. They resemble a thin, clear gumshield, which fits snugly over your teeth to keep them still. Sometimes referred to as Essix retainers, they are a comfortable and inconspicuous alternative to Hawley retainers, which you may remember if you’ve had orthodontic treatment before.
Your removable retainers will be custom-made to fit to fit you perfectly. We’ll take impressions of your teeth when we remove your braces and fit your retainers the following week. Don’t worry if your teeth move slightly in the meantime – your retainers will squeeze everything back into place.
Your orthodontist or orthodontic therapist will advise you on how often you need to wear your removable retainers, but in most cases you’ll only need to wear them at night. Keep them safe when you’re not wearing them – they do have a tendency to disappear. If you’d like the reassurance of a spare set, we can organise this for a small additional cost.
For extra peace of mind, we also provide all of our private patients with fixed retainers. These consist of a thin stainless steel wire, which is permanently bonded behind the front teeth. We usually fit your fixed retainers as soon as your braces are removed, before we take impressions for your removable retainers.
Fixed retainers are very unobtrusive and you’ll quickly forget they’re there. Just make sure you give them a little extra tlc when you brush your teeth. We’ll show you the best techniques and even give you some brushes to get you started.
We provide all of our private patients with two years of follow-up care; during this time we’ll see you for regular appointments and repair your fixed retainer free of charge. At the end of the two years you can choose to extend your follow-up period through our Retainer Care scheme – just ask your orthodontist for more details.
Keep in touch
If you experience any problems with your retainers, please get in touch as soon as you can. Even if your follow-up care has finished we’re still more than happy to provide advice, and in most cases we will be able offer you a repair or new retainers on a pay-as-you-go basis.