Orthodontic treatment is complete, and your child is getting his or her braces removed and have completed the hardest part of the road to a beautiful smile and straight teeth. And when you think the end is near, the orthodontist tells you that wearing retainers after braces is not an option — it's a requirement. Believe them when they say that the success of the orthodontic treatment depends upon diligently wearing a retainer.
The use of retainers after braces is an essential part of the continuing maintenance of teeth and will go a long way toward keeping the same bite and smile that the braces have formed over the last few years.
Your orthodontist, who performed the orthodontic treatment, will fabricate your retainers. The retainers are made by taking a dental impression of the upper and lower straightened teeth. The dentist sends the impression to a dental laboratory, and the retainers are made from wire and acrylic material. The dental retainers are sent back to the orthodontist who fits them on your teeth to secure them. Retainers are worn for several years, or in some cases, indefinitely.
Why Are Retainers Necessary?
Before your child got braces, the orthodontist carefully analyzed his teeth and jaws to develop the best treatment plan to move his teeth into proper alignment. Because teeth are securely held in place by bone and ligaments, it is no easy feat to move them. The bite is corrected, and your child's teeth look great, but they are not yet stabilized in their new spots. It takes time for the bone and ligaments to tighten and hold the teeth securely in place.
Orthodontic appliances put mechanical forces on the teeth to trigger changes in the ligaments and bone to allow movement. This process is slow and carefully planned, and the teeth eventually move into the correct position.
Retainers are vital to preserving the great results that the orthodontist was able to achieve. If your child does not wear a retainer at this point of treatment, their teeth will slowly drift out of alignment. It will be back to the drawing board!