A common thought is that teeth are a part of the jawbone itself. Really, our teeth are supported below the surface by what is called the periodontal ligament. This structure is somewhat soft and pliable, which is why a tooth can be wiggled in its socket. The nature of this supporting structure is what allows successful orthodontic treatment, in which teeth are gradually moved into a new and improved position.
Whether standard bracket-and-wire braces are applied, or Invisalign aligners are used, the constant gentle pressure stretches the supportive ligament beneath the surface of the gums, freeing teeth a bit at a time to their new location. However, once the braces are removed the periodontal ligament may tend to return to its previous position. Should this occur, teeth would be shifted in the process. For this reason, an orthodontic retainer is created upon the completion of treatment in our Buffalo area practice.
The positioning of our bite is determined primarily by our genetic makeup. However, several other factors impact the position of teeth – and the beauty of the smile. The way we speak, swallow, or breathe, for instance, can dictate where and how teeth lie. These same factors that can lead to the need for braces also need to be addressed after treatment.
After orthodontic treatment, you want your smile to remain beautiful forever. Likewise, we want the work that has gone into your smile to be sustained. To prevent a relapse to misalignment, a custom orthodontic retainer will be designed. Although braces are in place for several months, the ligament takes quite some time to adapt to its new “right” position. A retainer helps this process, and keeps teeth looking and functioning at their best.
For the first six to twelve months after the removal of braces, it is beneficial to wear your retainer at all times, taking it out for meals and oral hygiene. Wearing the appliance less frequently than directed can impact the longevity of teeth straightening. Upon subsequent follow-up after the first year post-treatment, you may discover that your retainer can be worn at night only. At this time, it is important to remain consistent, wearing the retainer every night for as long as your dentist advises the practice.
The team at Smile Center has the expertise to help you achieve your smile goals. Orthodontic treatment is customized to your needs, and proper follow-up preserves beautiful results. Contact us to schedule your orthodontic consultation.