Orthodontic retention phase. What happens after your braces come off?

By - Last Updated: 2017-11-14 -

braces come off

In order to maintain the effects of the orthodontic treatment, we have to undergo the retention phase, which will prevent possible return of malocclusion. What is the retention phase and how long does it take? During the orthodontic treatment our teeth change their position. The braces force the teeth to move from places where they have stayed during our whole life. Unfortunately, usually the braces are not enough to hold the teeth in the desired position for our whole life. Without appropriate treatment our teeth will most probably come back to their previous position.

How to keep the teeth in their new position?

After completing the orthodontic treatment, we have to undergo so-called retention phase, which stabilizes our new bite. In order to do that, we use retainers. The aim of the retainers is to allow our jaw, teeth and gums to get used to the new order and to keep the teeth in their new position.

Types of retainers

There are two different types of retainers:

- fixed retainers, a permanent retainer, which is fixed to your teeth during the whole period of the retention phase. They consist of thin wires, which are attached to the interior side of the upper and lower incisor teeth. They are usually used after extraction of a lower incisor tooth, by the patients suffering from periodontal diseases, as well as to treat midline diastema.

- removable retainers, most common are so-called clear plastic retainers and hawley retainers. It is advisable to wear it 24 hours a day right after removing the braces. After some time, it is enough to wear the retainer only during the night plus 2-3 hours during the day.

How long does the retention phase last?

It is impossible to precisely determine how long will the retention phase last. It depends on many various factors, among others how long did the orthodontic treatment last, how serious was the malocclusion or how old is the patient. Sometimes, the orthodontist recommends to wear the retainer for the rest of your life.

We should always follow the doctor's recommendations about wearing the retainer. We have to be aware of the fact that removing the braces does not mean the end of the orthodontic treatment. Some teeth need constant "help" in order to stay in the right places. If we neglect that, we may lose all the effects achieved thanks to the braces.

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