The removal of braces is not the end of the treatment. A stabilisation period afterwards is very important. Retention devices are orthodontic appliances that stabilise the results of treatment, so that the teeth or jaw do not fall back into their previous, bad position.

There are several reasons why the results do not remain stable. For example:

  • The remaining growth of the jaw: the lower jaw can continue growing for up to 8 years longer than the rest of the body does
  • The forces of chewing and the tongue, cheek and jaw muscles are always oriented forward, pushing the posterior teeth and often causing crowding in the anterior region over the years. This can happen to anyone, including those that have always had beautiful straight teeth
  • Crowding may also arise due to the pressure exerted by wisdom teeth breaking through or them incorrectly shifting forward
  • By patients with tongue malfunctions, the pressure from the tongue can cause life-long issues with tooth stability and the level of orthodontic results achieved
  • The biological 'memory' of tissue (bone, gums and fibers) where the teeth are found will always try to push the teeth back into their original position

Removable retention devices such as retention plates or transparent guards must be worn every night for at least a year. Since these devices can be easily lost, and teeth can move back to old positions within a matter of days, a fixed retainer in the upper and lower jaw is strongly recommended.

The fixed retainer is a slender wire, which is glued to the back of the incisors to connect these teeth together and provide stabilisation. This retainer must be worn for at least 7 years, but can even be recommended for life.

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