When is treatment complete? Because orthodontics is the science of tooth movement, treatment is considered complete when the active appliances are removed. On the other hand, that isn’t the end of the job. Because Dr. Renick and her staff at Renick Orthodontics have worked so hard to provide you with the healthiest, most aesthetic, and most functional smile, Dr. Renick takes steps to help you maintain the goals we have achieved.
Patients maintain their teeth with appliances known as retainers. Retainers are exactly what their name implies, a way to hold the teeth in the position in which they finished. Your body is an ever-changing environment. Moving your teeth where they should be doesn’t mean that they will stay there indefinitely. Over time, your hair changes, your skin changes and your teeth can move. Similar to a car that requires oil changes, your smile will need maintenance. This will come in many forms. Brushing your teeth prevents decay, flossing prevents gum disease, and retainers prevent unwanted tooth movement.
Dr. Renick’s recommendations for starting the retention phase will be that retainers should be worn full time for the first six months. These initial months are the months in which the teeth are more likely to move as the bone is “settling” after allowing the teeth to move. Your time in retainers is gradually reduced to night time wear. After six months post-treatment, the patient graduates from the office and any active follow up. At that point, maintenance is the sole responsibility of the patient and Dr. Renick is available on an as-needed basis. If the retainers begin to feel tight, this is an indication that the teeth are beginning to move and that the retainer should be worn more often. If the movement progresses too far due to lack of retainer wear and the retainer no longer fits, a consult with Dr. Renick may be necessary to discuss options to regain the treatment results. If you want to maintain a healthy functional smile, remember that retainers are for life!
We are happy to fabricate new retainers as the need arises. At your final visit, you will be given instructions on how to care for your retainers so that they will last a long time. These instructions are also available on our website. Retainers are durable over time with proper care, however they do experience normal wear and tear and may need to be replaced occasionally, especially in our patients who grind their teeth. A good analogy would be to picture a pair of sneakers. Sneakers protect your feet, but the soles will wear out over time and require a new pair. Likewise, retainers will protect your teeth, but may wear out and require replacement. It is far better to wear down the sneakers and retainers than to wear down your feet or your teeth.
Another reason a retainer may need to be replaced would be in the case of dental work being done by your general dentist. A new crown, bridge or filling may cause the retainer to no longer fit properly. The retainer was made to fit the position and the shape of the teeth at the time of debonding. Dental work may change the shape and position of those teeth. In some cases, a simple adjustment can be made, but in others, a replacement may be necessary. Your best option would be to call Dr. Renick to determine a plan of action.
If you have any questions about retention or to make an appointment with Dr. Renick, our orthodontist in Sunbury, Ohio, call Renick Orthodontics today at 740-936-5003.