Orthodontic Retention and Relapse
Straight, healthy teeth and beautiful smiles are your reward for undergoing orthodontic treatment. You eagerly await the day when your braces are removed and you can fully and confidently enjoy your stunning smile. But your treatment isn’t over once your braces are removed.
Keep that smile beautiful through orthodontic retention
After your braces are removed, you enter the retention phase of orthodontia, which is when retainers are used to help hold your repositioned teeth in proper alignment. The most critical retention phase lasts at least six months, but some people always use retainers. Most orthodontic retainers are either clear or pink appliances with metal wires. Of course, Comfort Dental’s standard orthodontic treatment plans incorporate the use of retainers to help ensure your bite will remain correct and your teeth will stay in the desired position. Failure to use retainers can result in relapse, meaning your teeth may shift out of position.
We can also help you if you are suffering from orthodontic relapse, when your previously corrected bite and tooth position has reverted to a problematic state post-orthodontia.
What causes orthodontic relapse?
Several factors can come into play. In our experience, there are five primary causes of orthodontic relapse.
- Patient fails to wear his or her retainers
- Improper retainers were made by the treating dentist
- Orthodontic treatment did not provide proper jaw growth
- Orthodontic treatment did not provide optimal biting mechanics (occlusion)
- Grinding or clinching of teeth was not properly addressed and/or treated
If I don’t wear my retainers, will a relapse occur?
Typically, there is a high risk of relapse if retainers are not worn. Comfort Dental advises patients to use their retaining appliance(s) as prescribed. However, we recognize that each patient’s commitment to retainer use varies. Some Comfort Dental patients have stopped using their retainers and have not experienced adverse effects. Such is the case with the patient below.
A significant overbite can be an orthodontic challenge requiring treatment with the use of appliances, braces, and elastics
When proper treatment is used, the overbite can be treated successfully and relapse can be prevented. This photo was taken 3 years after original treatment was completed. There was no relapse despite the fact that the patient did not wear her retainers
This patient suffered from a severe overbite (Class 2 occlusions). Her treatment consisted of using specialized corrective appliances called Twin Blocks. Similar appliances are called Herbst, Orthopedic Correctors, and Bionators. Orthodontic appliances are the best treatment options for patients like her, who require corrective jaw mechanics. Braces alone cannot do the job.
Jaw growth was stimulated through the use of Twin Blocks, then braces were used to align the teeth and continue stimulating jaw repositioning. Over 5 mm of actual jaw growth was achieved in this case. After a few months, the patient refused to wear her retainers. Despite the lack of compliance, notice that there was no relapse after three years. Her stabilized jaw-to-jaw position allowed her the comfort to chew properly. This comfort level helps to prevent relapse.
Standard orthodontic retainers cannot be used to stabilize patients who have received functional orthodontics (link to the page) and corrections of class 2 overbites. Specialized retainers are required in order to prevent relapse.
Comfort Dental offers innovative treatments and special dental appliances to help with orthodontic retention and minimize orthodontic relapse. We want our patients to be rewarded with a spectacular life-long smile. We can help patients who have undergone orthodontic procedures and are now experiencing orthodontic relapse. Contact Comfort Dental today to discuss orthodontic retention and orthodontic relapse, and learn how we can help you.