Retainers: Helping to Prevent Crooked Teeth After Braces

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Although retainers don’t get the credit and attention that braces do, this important oral appliance greatly aids in the final steps to keep teeth straight. Retainers are customized mouthpieces that stabilize the position of teeth.

Recommended by orthodontists as the last phase of orthodontic treatment, retainers are used to finish the job braces start. The American Association of Orthodontics reports braces cause major shifting in teeth and can affect the bone structure in your mouth.

How do retainers fix crooked teeth? They help stabilize teeth while new bone tissue builds around them. This solidifies their new positions and keeps them straight.

In baseball terms, braces are the ace starting pitcher, while retainers are the shutdown closer that seals victory for straightened teeth. Retainers protect your orthodontic investment in braces and ensure your teeth remain straight, strong and smiling bright.

Braces create a beautiful smile, but the retainer maintains it.

As the AAO stresses, “wearing retainers as prescribed is the key to maintaining the success of orthodontic treatment.”

Preventing Crooked Teeth After Braces

After braces have been removed, teeth can relapse and shift back to their original position. It can take four to six months for the new position of teeth to solidify.

“During that time, your teeth will try to shift back to their original position, which is called relapse,” Nancy Moyer, MD, of writes.

Retainers, especially when worn overnight, prevent tooth relapses by maintaining the position of straightened teeth.

“When used as instructed, a retainer prevents (a relapse) from happening,” Moyer writes.

Retainer Options: Permanent and Removable

Depending on the need, retainers are available in permanent and removable options.  Permanent, long-term retainers are made of metal wire, usually copper, nickel, titanium or a combination.  Removable retainers are adjustable and comprised of plastic or polyurethane. 

Consult your orthodontist to determine which retainer option is best for your teeth.

So Why A Retainer?

For peace of mind and surefire knowledge that your teeth will remain properly alligned.

“Even after your teeth are in their new position, the effects of chewing, growth and everyday wear can lead to relapse,” Moyer writes.

True to their name, retainers retain the straightening work of braces.

“This ‘retention’ phase of care is critical to the long-term stability of treatment results,” the AAO notes.

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