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Orthodontic Retention Strategies: Keeping Your Smile Perfect Post-Treatment

Getting orthodontic treatment is a big investment and a major milestone for many people. When the braces or aligners come off, and your perfect smile takes its first breath, there’s no denying the feeling of relief and pride – not to mention every “oh my goodness, your teeth are so lovely!” moment. But before overconfidence sets in, it’s essential to create an orthodontic retention strategy to maintain that perfect smile. Your orthodontist certainly doesn’t want all their hard work to go to waste, and neither should you! Here is what you need to know about maintaining the ideal smile post-treatment.

Understand Orthodontic Retention

In order to understand why there is need for a retention strategy after orthodontic treatment, it is important to first understand why your teeth kept shifting. Basically, after orthodontic work, your bones, gums, and the tissues supporting your teeth need time to reform around the new arrangement of the teeth to properly stabilize it. If not, your teeth can start shifting back into their original positions. The arches of the gums can’t be bent back into the agreed-upon placement, and the only way to maintain the arrangement is with a well-planned orthodontic retention strategy.

Make Sure Orthodontic Retainers Are the Right Choice

The most common form of retention strategy after orthodontic treatment is orthodontic retainers. These are made to order for the patient and placed once the braces or aligners come off, and they ensure the teeth are firmly in place while given time to stabilize. There are three types of orthodontic retainers, made of metal, plastic or both, and it is important to work with your dentist to choose the most appropriate type of retainer. Discuss the length of time the retainer needs to be worn as well – typically 12-22 hours per day for the initial six months post-treatment is recommended, and then it will gradually be decreased.

Committed to Regular Dental Visits for Orthodontic Retention

Making sure you’re committed to seeing your dental professional regularly is essential for maintaining your orthodontic retention strategy. They can monitor the progress of the retention and ensure no unexpected changes are taking place. Regular check-ups can also help your dentist identify any obstacles that may be impeding the retention strategy so proper adjustments can be made. During the post-treatment retention period, it is also important to be diligent about cleaning your teeth, as a build-up of plaque or dirt at the gum line can interfere with the retention strategy.

Assessing Orthodontic Retention’s Impact on the Diet

During the first few months after orthodontic treatment, it is best to go easy on the crunchy, hard, and sticky foods. These types of foods can disrupt the stabilization process and increase the chances of the alignment shifting. It is best to err on the side of caution and stay away from foods such as nuts, popcorn, taffy, and gum until the retention strategy has been completed. After that, talk to your dentist or orthodontist to gauge when it will be safe to return to the pre-orthodontic diet.

Orthodontics is a lifelong journey, and as such, orthodontic retention strategies are an essential component. Keeping the orthodontic retention strategy top-of-mind is important for maintaining a perfect smile. Clinical excellence combined with appropriate individualized procedures and continuous monitoring will become the standard approach for ensuring both beautiful and healthy smiles for each and every orthodontic patient.