After the end of orthodontic treatment, your teeth will want to go back to their initial positions before orthodontic treatment, this is what we call ‘Relapse’. In the short term, for approximately the first year, there is the highest risk of relapse, mainly due to the elastic memory of the ligaments holding the teeth to the bone. In the long term, because teeth are like everything else in our body, alive and changing, the risk of relapse is still there but to a lesser degree. The crowding of teeth is part of the ageing process - whether or not orthodontic treatment has been undertaken.
The only way to guarantee that your teeth stay straight is to wear you retainers after the braces have been taken out. These appliances will ensure your teeth stay straight. They therefore form a vital part of the treatment and instructions on how and when to use them should be strictly adhered to. Retainers can be removable clear plastic appliances, or occasionally a fixed wire retainer invisibly glued behind the front teeth as well. The modern approach is that removable retainers should be worn on an ongoing life-long basis. Every night for the first year, this can then be reduced to alternate nights in the long term. This is the only way to minimise the risk of unwanted tooth movement.
- Invisible removable retainers:
- Fixed hidden retainers: