You did it! You finally got your braces off. Your orthodontic journey is over… WRONG! The time directly following the removal of your braces is critical in preserving the smile you and Dr. Burke and Beckstrom worked so hard to straighten. Because your teeth are still adjusting to their new positions, it is imperative to wear your retainer. Retainers are made of plastic or a combination of plastic and metal, which you most likely had fitted to your new smile. All of the time, effort, and money can be wasted in a matter of days, weeks, or months if you are not diligent in wearing your retainer. 

When Should I Wear My Retainer? 

Dr. Burke and Dr. Beckstrom will direct you on how often you should wear your retainer, but in case you forgot, here’s a reminder! You must wear your retainers more often for the first few weeks or months. We recommend that you wear them as often as possible, especially at night while you’re sleeping. Once your teeth have had time to adjust to their new positions, you can wear them every other night. It is recommended that you never stop wearing them entirely. You can properly maintain their positions by wearing them at least three times overnight every week. 

What Happens If I Don’t Wear Them After… 

A Week

After a week of neglecting to wear your retainer, your teeth will begin shifting back to their original positions. Everyone’s teeth and how they shift are different; even the slightest shift could impact how your retainer fits. After a week, you can still move your teeth back into place by wearing your retainer daily and nightly, only taking them out to eat or to brush your teeth. Your teeth will quickly return to their straight positions.

A Month

After a month, your teeth will continue to shift. Your bite will begin to change and cause a noticeable change in your chewing pattern. At this point, your retainer will likely not be enough to get them to return to their post-braces positions. It might be necessary to contact our office to schedule an appointment to get fitted for a new retainer. You will also need to increase how frequently you wear it. 

A Year

Keeping your smile straight can be as simple as wearing your retainer daily and consistently. Going a year without wearing your retainer will make your teeth shift entirely, and your bite return to its original position. You forfeit all the time, effort, and money spent correcting your smile. The only solution at this stage is to return to braces to fix them. 

Don’t Forget to Wear Your Retainer

Adjusting to the habit of wearing your retainer can be difficult, but it is critical in maintaining your new smile. If you have a hard time remembering, keep your retainer in a visible place, create a reminder on your phone, or ask a family member to remind you. If you struggle to remember, it might be worth considering permanent retainers, which are placed on the back of the top and bottom teeth. 

Contact our office to schedule an appointment for a permanent retainer if you feel this is a better option for you! Burke + Beckstrom Orthodontics is here to help you maintain your new smile.