Retainers are worn at the end of orthodontic treatment to hold the teeth straight.
The retainers are as important as the brace treatment because if they are not worn the teeth will move.
At the end of the orthodontic treatment, the fibres are like elastic bands which hold the teeth in to the jaw bone and are stretched and they try to move the teeth back to where they came from. It takes a long time for these fibres to settle. There are some features such as rotated teeth and spaced teeth which are especially prone to relapse.
Teeth will also want to move while the face is still actively growing in to the late teens to early twenties. Even in adults teeth will still move due to the facial changes which take place as we get older.
In the mouth there are forces acting on the teeth all the time such as those from the cheeks, the lips and the tongue. During chewing there are huge forces
pushing on the teeth. These forces have an influence on the teeth positions. Teeth are therefore on the move throughout life and this can be thought of as a normal developing process.
It is important that all patients understand before they start orthodontic treatment that retainers will need to be worn. We do not place a timeline on its duration though we still review our patients who completed orthodontics over 25 years ago. These patients have the fixed retainers.