Retainers and the Importance of The Retention Phase

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When your braces come off, it doesn’t mean that your orthodontic treatment is over. In fact, you’re about to enter one of the most important phases in your ongoing orthodontic process: the retention phase. This phase can help your teeth stay aligned, so your beautiful new smile can stay intact for a lifetime.

What Is The Retention Phase?

The retention phase of orthodontic treatment is aimed at maintaining the new position of your teeth using a retaining appliance (retainer). Without the retention phase, teeth can start to shift back out of alignment, a phenomenon known as “relapse”. To prevent your teeth from relapsing, every customized orthodontic treatment plan is followed by a retention phase. The degree of compliance of the patient with the retention phase determines the durability of their result.

On average, it can take the better part of a year after your braces come off for your teeth to settle into their new position. There are two types of retainers generally used during the retention phase: removable and permanent. Dr. Dask will recommend which option is best for you based on your specific orthodontic needs and your pre-treatment situation.

How long do I keep wearing my retainer? 

We recommend that patients wear their retainers full-time (except when eating, brushing their teeth, swimming, or playing sports) for the first six months after the end of their active orthodontic treatment. After that, we typically switch to long-term night-time wear.  Most orthodontists now recommend that permanent retainers be left in place indefinitely, and removable retainers be worn night-time long-term, to minimize unwanted changes. This is why we often quote the phrase: “night-time for a lifetime”!   Your orthodontist will advise you on when it is safe to reduce the wear time. It is very important to follow your orthodontist’s instructions carefully if you don’t want to see your smile change!

We normally schedule follow-up appointments for the first two years after a patient receives their retainer to make sure it is working properly and teeth aren’t shifting. If your retainer breaks, or if you lose it, make sure you contact our office as soon as possible so we can replace it for you before your teeth relapse.

– Your Beach Braces Team