When people think about straightening their teeth, they often consider it as a “one-off process”. Wear braces or clear aligners for months, and think they are done! Unfortunately, it is usually several months, or even years later, when people realise that the most important part of straightening teeth was not the braces themselves, but the retainers that are worn to maintain their hard-earned results.
Teeth shift and move tiny amounts constantly.
This happens most rapidly during the growing teenage years, and continues throughout your entire life. Very often, people in their mid-20s to mid-30s start to notice their front teeth shifting and becoming more crowded.
Teeth support structures are creatures of habit – forcing teeth back to their original position.
When teeth are moved by braces or clear aligners, they undergo not just the natural movement discussed above, but also something called “relapse”. Relapse is the tendency for teeth to slip back towards their original positions after you stop wearing braces or aligners. For example, if a front tooth was sticking out before braces, that same tooth will tend to start to stick slightly out again after a few months.
The reason this happens is that the structures that support the tooth – the gums, ligaments, and bones – do not change position as fast as the teeth do. Instead, the tooth moves into its new position, stretching the supporting tissues like an elastic band. As we all know, once a stretched elastic band is released, it tends to spring back to its original shape, and this is similar to what is happening with teeth once you stop wearing your aligners.
Retainers, worn every night, help maintain the position.
So, after you finish your aligner treatment, the teeth want to shift for two reasons: the natural growth process and relapse. Thankfully, there is a way we can prevent this from happening, so your hard work and money spent straightening your teeth is not wasted!
Retainers are a set of clear plastic trays, custom-fitted to your straightened teeth, which hold the teeth in position. They look and feel almost exactly the same as your aligners, but they are made from a tougher, more durable material so they can last for up to a year and hold the teeth securely in position.
You only need to wear the retainers while you sleep, unlike aligners which require full-time wear. Retainers can last for up to a year, at which time it is wise to replace them with a fresh set.
Make it part of your nightly routine.
How long should I wear the retainers for? – For as long as you want the teeth to remain straight.
Wearing your retainers at night will prevent the natural growth changes and relapse of the teeth that tends to make them more crooked over time. If you stop wearing your retainers at any time, the teeth will tend to start moving again, no matter your age.
Never trust aligner companies that claim that retainers are “optional extra” by charging it separately. It should be part of your whole package.
Incredibly, some aligner companies care so little about providing a long-lasting result that they offer retainers as an ‘optional extra’, often at a cost of hundreds and hundreds of dollars. These companies spend all their effort and budget advertising the straightening of teeth, without planning for how to keep them straight long-term.
At Selfie, we aim to be fully transparent in what we do, even when it comes to the finer points of orthodontics. We make the following commitment to our customers, to make sure that the results you get from your Selfie treatment are stable and long-lasting:
- Retainers are included in every single treatment that we offer
- Our Selfie service team will continue to support you even after your aligner journey has ended with us, to ensure you are maintaining your result with your retainers, and have access to replacement retainers whenever they get worn out