Why do we need orthodontic retainers?

With braces, oral problems such as crooked or crowded teeth, overbites or under-bites, incorrect jaw position and disorders of the jaw joints are corrected. After the braces have been removed, teeth can shift back to their original position. So, retainers are worn overnight (if not longer) can help maintain the position of straightened teeth.

It takes time for the bone and all the tissues around your teeth to reorganise and therefore it is necessary to use retainers until your bite stabilises. In the first month after the braces have been removed, the risk of relapse is very high. Relapse means that the teeth can take up to one year or more to stabilize after treatment. If you had gaps between your teeth before treatment, the retention period would be longer.

For children, the advantages of wearing their retainers correctly stretch far beyond just having straight teeth; it also helps with speech problems. The only issue that most children have with new retainers is the possibility of losing it. Therefore, it is important that you get your child into the habit of wearing their retainer correctly and keeping it safe.

The safest place for your retainers is in your mouth. If you are not using the retainers, they should always be kept in a box. There is a great risk of losing retainers if they are wrapped in tissue paper after you remove them from your mouth.

Your dentist will prescribe the retention plan that is best for you. Some retainers are used full-time for the first six months; after that, the retainers are worn only at night, for a few years. Other retainers are worn full-time for about a week, and solely at night after that. Fixed retainers are normally kept in place for five years.

To learn more about the importance of retainers, contact Dr. Corne Smith in Claremont, Cape Town.

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