We’ve all seen it happen; Mom and Dad spend thousands (!!) of dollars straightening their teen’s smile only to see teeth shift back to their pre-braces state. We asked Dr. Chapman of Chapman Orthodontics for his advice!
So,how important is it to wear my retainer every night, anyway?
It is extremely important that teens understand that teeth have memory and will want to go back to where they were. Just like your body changes, your teeth will also want to change. We always recommend wearing retainers forever. In our office, we have fun with the process and actually have a marriage ceremony in which the patient signs a marriage certificate. This certificate makes the patient promise to stay together in straightness and in dental health with their retainer.
We also impress upon teens that their parents have made a sizable investment in their teeth and if they don’t wear their retainers, their parents are going to make them pay for it next time.
Are there other reasons to wear your retainer?
It is very important for the teen to understand that the retainers we give the patients not only keep the teeth straight, but protect the teeth from wearing down. Everyone grinds their teeth at night to some extent and the retainers we use go over the top of the teeth. This keeps the teeth from wearing down too fast or in an abnormal way.
How fast can your teeth shift out of place?
Teeth can shift out of place slightly in a matter of days, but as long as your retainers are put back in within a week, your retainers can push them back to where they were. We recommend you wear your retainers every night, but we understand that sometimes we forget and life situations make it tough. We always advise our patients to go to full-time wear with retainers if you have gone a week or so without wearing them. If you are not sure if you can still wear the retainer, call your orthodontist and make an appointment.
What if my retainer hasn’t left its case in weeks (or, uh…a little longer) and my teeth have already shifted?
Don’t be bashful. We definitely won’t be mad at you, but we do need to see you soon to see what can be done. The biggest mistake we see being made is that people say that they meant to come in a year ago. Unfortunately, a lot can happen during that year without a retainer. Always bring your old retainers to that appointment if you still have them because there is still that chance that your retainers can move them back. The retainers that we use are clear and can be worn without anybody noticing that you have them in. Within a very short appointment, we can assess what has happened and give you some options; it might just involve us making your teen some new retainers that can move them back. Sometimes partial braces can accomplish what needs to be done in a matter of a few months. A lot of our patients who need retreatment do not want braces again, and Invisalign, a series of computer-generated, clear aligners, can be a great option for them. There are different levels of cost for Invisalign, and sometimes the cost can be minimal.
Dr. Will Chapman has been an orthodontist in Montgomery for over 12 years and loves seeing his patients’ self-esteem grow through treatment. He also served as president of the Alabama Association of Orthodontists.