Congratulations on making it to the next stage of your orthodontic care! Now that you’ve completed active treatment, you’re ready to move on to the retention phase! Retention is the process of maintaining your new alignment! For this, Dr. Foley of Foley Orthodontics will give you a retainer
While it might sound discouraging to go from one orthodontic appliance to another, we promise that continuing your dedication to your care at this stage is worth the effort. To help get you excited about it, we’ll explain a little more about the orthodontic process and the retainer’s role in creating your perfect smile. Let’s dive right in!
What Happens In My Mouth During Treatment?
During active treatment, which is the period when you wear clear aligners or braces, your orthodontic appliance applies gentle, continuous pressure to your teeth. This pressure causes your mouth to conduct a process known as “rebuilding” by breaking down the bone that holds the teeth to the jaw and reconstructing it to fill in the now-empty space as the teeth move.
We complete active treatment when the teeth are exactly where they need to be, and we don’t want further progression! This is when we’ll issue you your custom-made retainer.
Wait, what even is a retainer?
A retainer is a fixed or removable orthodontic appliance designed to hold the teeth in place without applying any pressure. Fixed retainers are bonded to the teeth and can only be removed by an orthodontic professional. Removable retainers, like the Hawley and Essix styles, can and should be taken out by patients for eating, drinking, and performing oral hygiene.
Both types have advantages and disadvantages, and Dr. Foley will discuss them with you when the time is right.
Why do I need one?
If Dr. Foley removed your braces or finished your Invisalign treatment and then sent you on your way without a retainer, you would very quickly end up back in his office again to start the whole process over!
Even though active treatment has ended, your teeth are still not ready to be given their freedom yet. Teeth have incredible memories regarding their placement. Because they don’t understand why they’ve been moved, they will take advantage of the mouth’s pliable state to return to their original homes. This backward movement is called regression!
Retainers are crucial to preserving all your hard work during active treatment! They hold your alignment as the mouth adjusts to its new layout.
If you have a removable retainer, wear it as instructed. Neglecting or forgetting to wear it can prompt a restart in active treatment! A noticeable shift in your teeth takes as little as one day.
Okay, I’ll Wear It. But For How Long?
We don’t mean to be the bearers of bad news, but there is unlikely to be a time when you don’t need a retainer.
At first, you will likely wear your removable retainer around the clock. After a while, Dr. Foley will slowly taper that down to nightly wear, or maybe even as little as a couple of nights a week. However, because teeth can shift anytime for multiple reasons, you will likely need them for the rest of your life. Luckily, though, retainers are built to last if taken care of! Fixed, Hawley, and Essix retainers require different maintenance, so ask Dr. Foley for the instructions for your appliance when you receive it. Don’t use any products on it without his approval!
On a positive note, wearing retainers as instructed maintains all your hard work for years to come. To get your beautiful smile, you might have had to suffer through food cravings, feelings of self-consciousness about your treatment, and meticulously clean your appliances. Though you did a great job, we know you probably don’t want to do it again. The best way to avoid a Deja Vu moment in your orthodontic care is to wear your retainer.
Note: Patients with fixed retainers should discuss the longevity of their device and the duration of its use with Dr. Foley.
Foley Orthodontics Is Here For You Before, During, And After Active Treatment.
Orthodontic care can be confusing, especially for first-time patients. But it doesn’t have to be! Foley Orthodontics has all the information you need to feel comfortable and confident throughout your orthodontic experience.
If you are a new patient and want to find out if you are a candidate for orthodontic care, schedule a free, zero-commitment in-person or virtual consultation with us. If you are a current patient with questions about retainer care or need a new one, contact us today. We will gladly help you get on the right track!
We can’t wait to see you and talk orthodontics, so get in touch soon!