Why is Wearing a Retainer Important?
“Why do I have to wear a retainer?” is a question most orthodontists get asked on a regular basis. If they’re not being asked, “why?”, the question is always, “how long?”. Most orthodontic teams go over orthodontic expectations and the need to wear a retainer before treatment even begins, but the excitement about having a beautiful smile and no more crooked teeth can mean patients forget important details about retainer wear, as they’re focused on the immediate need for braces or aligners. Wearing a retainer once teeth are in desired position is crucial to the longevity of a healthy bite as it prevents tooth movement and case regression.
Do All Orthodontic Patients Wear a Retainer?
Regardless of whether you wore metal braces or clear aligners, you’ll have to wear a retainer. And it’s important to remember that retainer-wear is in fact a part of a patient’s orthodontic treatment plan and not some an optional appliance. Without regular wear of a retainer, teeth can shift, and all the good work braces and aligners have done can be quickly unravelled without the support of a retainer. The retainer can be used to finalize a few tooth positions and stabilize a patient’s new bite. Ignoring the need to wear it can compromise a bite and allow initial issues to creep back.
Is a Retainer Worn All Day Every Day?
Your orthodontist will establish the frequency and duration of wear depending on your individual bite. A person who began orthodontic treatment to correct a severe bite problem may spend more time wearing a retainer than a person who had a mild adjustment made to the bite. Wearing a finishing retainer as per an orthodontist’s instructions is the important part – as they will have anticipated your bite’s needs based on the prior months of tooth movement. When a retainer is worn correctly, new tooth positions stabilize and a new bite has the best chance of remaining healthy for life.
Not sure where your retainer is? If you’ve lost your retainer or it doesn’t fit anymore due to lack of wear, let your orthodontist know as a new retainer can be made.
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