Maintaining the Results
At the completion of active orthodontic treatment, the braces are removed and retaining appliances (retainers) are fitted to hold the teeth steady in their new position and allow your bones and gums adapt to the change. Recent studies have indicated that teeth retain the ability to shift for several years. Long-term orthodontic results depend on consistent retainer wear, so it is very important to wear retainers as directed to prevent orthodontic relapse.
There are several types of retainers (fixed or removable), each with specific benefits. Dr. Kostas will prescribe the appropriate retainer for each case, taking personal preference into account. Traditional acryilc-and-wire retainers allow for maximum tooth contact, while newer invisible (essix) retainers provide optimum retention in all three dimensions.
In most cases we place bonded retainers on the lower teeth and on the upper teeth when the bite allows it. These are fine wires fixed (glued) to the back of the front teeth, giving more security against the teeth moving than removable retainers alone. Bonded retainers have the advantage of being more cosmetic and less intrusive, however they are more difficult to clean and maintain. As with anything in the mouth, they may need some maintenance from time to time. Poor hygiene around the bonded retainer wire can lead to gingivitis, cavities, or even periodontal disease. You should have this wire monitored by your family dentist at your six-month checkups.
We advise all our patients to wear their removable retainers at least three nights a week indefinitely to maintain their beautiful smile. We also recommend to leave the bonded retainers in place permanently, as long as they are intact. The only exception is if your family dentist says you are not keeping the bonded retainers clean and it is beginning to cause gum or bone problems. If this occurs, the wire should be removed and replaced with a removable retainer. As a courtesy, Dr. Kostas will continue to monitor your retainers and retainer wear for one year after active treatment ends.
Bonded retainers are custom-made wires placed behind your front teeth to maintain their alignment.