Retention Phase of your Braces
How Long is the Retention Phase?
When we remove your braces, we will begin the retention phase of your treatment. The retention phase lasts for a minimum of 6 months. Your final orthodontic result depends on your retainers, so follow through with the hard work you’ve put in so far. Remember to remove your retainer before brushing, and brush your retainer with soap and cold water before placing it back in your mouth.
Retainers are Forever
Factors Causing Movement in the Retention Phase
The 6-month retention phase allows for a majority of growth and settling to occur so that the teeth and jaws are as stable as possible. However, living tissue is always subject to change from posture, habits, muscle pressure, etc. The eruption of teeth, dental restorations and the aging process all contribute to unwanted tooth movement. Forces exerted by the lips and tongue can also cause subtle changes in tooth positions. Habits such as biting your nails or chewing on pencils put enough pressure on the teeth to move them as well.
Recent studies have indicated that growth occurs in small amounts throughout life. Thus, teeth and jaws can shift at any time in varying degrees, which usually depend on the original malocclusion, the facial muscle structure and the amount of residual growth.
Some believe that unerupted wisdom teeth are a factor in movement of teeth, but this has not been proven conclusively and tooth shifting has been seen to occur in people with no wisdom teeth. Removal of wisdom teeth or 3rd molars may be recommended due to lack of adequate space in the mouth for normal eruption.
The only way to maintain the tooth alignment indefinitely is with permanent guidance or lifetime retention. This means wearing a removable retainer 4-7 nights per week forever. Removable retainers must be used in both the upper and lower jaws.