This is a common question when someone is facing getting their braces off. It’s a valid concern: after all, you spent a lot of time and money on those braces and you don’t want to see all that hard work go to waste. So, the honest answer is: no one can expect their teeth not to move somewhat ever again. That’s just what happens to the human body: wrinkles happen as we get older, things start to sag, we change. Same goes for the teeth.
The goal of orthodontic treatment isn’t necessarily to prevent all future movement. Settling will occur, and that’s absolutely normal. In fact, many times, your bite will actually improve with this settling. Of course, no one wants those front teeth to shift, so the ultimate goal is to minimize the movement, and that usually comes in the form of a retainer –either bonded or removable.
Over time, once your braces are off, your tongue, occlusion, wear and old habits start up again. That’s why your orthodontist will fit you for some kind of retainer. Most commonly, this is a removable device that you wear only at night to keep the teeth in alignment. Skipping even a few nights of retainer use, as you may have already noticed, can result in slight shifting. You may have felt a tightness when you put your retainer in after a few nights of failing to use it. That shows you the power of the teeth and the natural tendency of them to want to go back to their original positions.
That’s why it’s so important to wear your retainer as directed. Sometimes, the orthodontist will bond a simple wire retainer behind your upper or bottom teeth. This is a permanent fixture that prevents the need for wearing a removable device. Which one you get is really up to your orthodontist and yourself after a discussion on expectations.
If you are wearing a retainer religiously but still notice some shifting a few weeks after braces removal, make an appointment to see your orthodontist. The retainer may have to be adjusted. Waiting too long to address these issues can be detrimental to your overall teeth placement, so don’t delay.
The bottom line is, it takes a while for the bone and tissue in your mouth to re-organize. In this interim time while your bite stabilizes itself, you need to wear a retainer. You may even need to wear one at night for the rest of your life if you really want to continue with the straightest teeth possible. Again, your orthodontist will advise as to the duration of treatment.
Got more questions about after-braces care? Call the offices of Drs. Savage, Sabol and Visser to make an appointment.