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Are retainers forever?

We see many adults who come to us seeking orthodontic treatment, many of whom were treated as teenagers.  They often tell me that they were told to wear their retainers for two years and then they could stop.  Unfortunately, many of these individuals are back at the orthodontist because their teeth have shifted, sometimes dramatically.  They often report that they would have worn their retainers longer if they knew their teeth were going to shift later.

These days we make it a priority to remind our patients that long-term retainer wear is required to prevent the inevitable shifting that occurs with age.  Why do the teeth move so easily?  As we find out as we get older, our bodies change significantly as the years go by.  Our skin, muscles, bones, and teeth can change—many times in ways we don’t like.  When you consider that a half ounce of force applied over a long enough period of time can move a tooth, it is really not surprising that teeth start to move as our bodies change.  But I like to remind people that unlike all of the other changes that happen as we age, tooth movement is one of the few that we can prevent!

The best long-term solution to this problem is to continue nighttime retainer wear for as long as you want your teeth to stay straight.  It’s really that simple.

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