Hurrah, my braces are off!! But what are these bonded retainers on the back of my teeth for? The need for retainers and how long retention should be maintained is a common topic among orthodontists and those having had orthodontics. The discussion has concluded that if you want your teeth to stay straight then you must have some type of lifelong retainer. Our teeth continue to move throughout life with the forces of the lips, tongue and facial muscles, habits of grinding or nail biting , sleeping position and the lower jaw grows forward slowly. Even with retention there can be small amounts of tooth movement through the years.
Our esthetic conscience culture is also very aware of irregular teeth and people want to have a beautiful, perfect smile all their life. We generally place a bonded retainer on upper and lower front teeth for a minimum of 2 years but we recommend to keep them into early adulthood(mid-twenties) if possible or even better long term. The other option that is available is a removable retainer but there must be dedication to wearing the appliance every night.
Retainer maintenance is also important. If a bond is broken the retainer needs to be repaired or removed. Retainers that become detached from a tooth can have the wire pull on the other teeth causing dramatic changes in the alignment. If the gum tissue becomes inflamed or if plaque control is poor the bonded retainers should be removed. Removable retainers that are broken or bent can also cause abnormal changes in the once aligned dentition.