A common question I am asked is “How long do I have to wear my retainers?”
The British Orthodontic Society has the answer to this question and has produced an informative video on the importance of retention after braces have been used to straighten teeth.
It basically says that a retainer should be worn after orthodontic treatment for as long as you want to keep your teeth straight.
Our American colleagues put it more bluntly – they say a retainer is for life!
After you have gone through the often lengthy (and costly in the US) process of braces to straighten teeth, long term retention to keep the teeth in their new positions retention is vital. Why? Because there is a very high chance everything will relapse over time.
Indeed the current boom in adult orthodontic treatment shows that to be the case. Teeth that were once perfectly and beautifully aligned during the mid teens are unravelling by the late 20s, early 30s.
So if you want straight teeth for life, it has to be retention for life, too.
Remember also that these retainers will need some attention from time to time. Fixed retainers are attached to the teeth and will be examined as part of your overall dental health check but don’t forget to bring along any removable retainers to check they are still doing their job properly.
I once read about a Californian lady in her 80s who was undergoing a course of full on “Train track” fixed orthodontics. I imagine her orthodontist would have given her the same advice as every other patient, after all they have a tendency for longevity in the Golden State.