Teeth Shifting Back

by maria | Last Updated: December 21, 2020

The effectiveness of braces in making misaligned teeth straight is well known. Braces will move your teeth in the desired direction to give you a perfect smile, but if left unprotected; your teeth could shift back, making years-long effort useless. Orthodontists recommend wearing retainers overnight to keep straightened teeth in the right position. Besides, retainers are recommended for speech improvement as well. After your braces phase, your orthodontist will examine the progress and suggest either removable or permanent retainers, as per your need for a better outcome. Depending on your condition, you might have to wear a retainer for 4 to 6 months to avoid the possibility of relapse.

Why Do Orthodontists Recommend Wearing Retainers?

It takes 4 to 6 months for straightened teeth to become permanent. The chance of shifting back to the original position during this period remains very high. If you wear suitable retainers as per instructions, you reduce the chances of relapse. Beyond this period, your chewing habit, growth, and natural wear could cause a relapse. In such cases, your orthodontist will tell you to wear it for a longer period. The retainer wearing instruction varies from case to case, so wear as per instruction to have a straight smile forever. Your orthodontist will check retainer fitness regularly, and fix it if required for better results.

Removable Retainers

As the name suggests, this retainer gives you the flexibility to remove it whenever required. This flexibility ensures better oral care and eating. These are less expensive and easily available. It can be challenging for kids to keep it in the right place. In some cases, people report excessive saliva production, at least in the early days. If you are not following instructions strictly, a relapse might occur, causing unnecessary delay in treatment. You have two options of removable retainers, namely Hawley and Clear Plastic retainers.

Hawley Retainers

Made of thin metal wire and plastic, Hawley retainers are removable retainers designed to fit in the roof of the mouth or lower teeth. The orthodontist maintains alignment by adjusting the attached metal wire. It is durable and can be repaired if broken. If your case requires wearing a retainer for a longer period, this could be a better option. Some people complain about speech difficulty and irritation, which is very temporary. It is a little costlier as compared to clear plastic retainers.

Clear Plastic Retainers

If you are self-conscious of wearing a retainer and looking for discreet options, then this removable retainer is a great choice. These are custom-designed for perfect fitting, this is called molded retainers. Made of plastic or polyurethane, it is almost invisible so you won’t have to worry about appearance. It is lighter and fits better, thus gives better protection against relapse. It is molded, so you don’t have the option of adjustment or repair. Some people complain about speech impairment in the early days. If not maintained, it could discolor, thus become more visible over time.  

Permanent Retainers

The name comes from the bonding of solid or braided wire inside the front teeth to avoid relapse. It is curved to fit the shape of newly moved teeth thus gives a better result. Also known as fixed, lingual, or bonded retainer, it can only be removed by an orthodontist. You should discuss suitability as it depends more on your habit. Unlike Hawley retainer or clear plastic retainer, it is invisible and doesn’t affect your speech. You are free of worries of misplacing and damage. Though highly effective, you might face difficulty following your regular oral hygiene like cleaning and flossing. You have to spend a bit more as compared to removable retainers.   

Take-Home Message

The suitability of retainers depends on an individual’s case, so it is better to follow what your orthodontist suggests. He will examine the progress of your orthodontic treatment and recommend the best retainers to keep you straightened in the right position. The effectiveness of your retainer will depend on your discipline, so follow instructions religiously to have a perfect smile forever. 

Maria Giovanisci is an enterprising dentist from London. Maria graduated from the University of Murcia and began her professional career in her own dental clinic before, she decided to embark on a joint project with her two colleagues. Aside from contributing on this blog, she also works in the public health sector at the new Torrevieja Hospital.