To achieve a “Hollywood” smile, many people will have to take a cosmetic journey with their dentist. Getting to the end of your orthodontic treatment with a beautifully straight smile is a huge accomplishment. But, there are steps that you need to take to keep those final results. Maintaining that smile for a lifetime requires some effort. Otherwise, you may fall victim to orthodontic relapse.
Never fear! With the right routine, you can ensure that your smile remains as stunning as the day you finished your treatment.
What Is Orthodontic Relapse?
Orthodontic relapse occurs when your teeth gradually shift back to their original positions after orthodontic treatment. This can happen for various reasons. For example, age and genetics can cause relapse. However, a more common cause is due to your retainers. If you don’t wear your retainers the way your dentist tells you, your teeth can shift out of place.
Why Retainers Are Crucial
Retainers are devices that hold your teeth in their newly aligned positions. After finishing your treatment, your dentist will likely suggest wearing retainers to prevent relapse.
Retainers help stabilize your teeth in their new positions. This allows the bone and tissues to adapt to the changes. Without retainers, your teeth may gradually move back to their original positions due to natural forces like muscle and tongue pressure.
Furthermore, orthodontic treatment can be a significant investment in terms of time and money. Therefore, wearing retainers can help preserve your results and your investment.
Tips for a Lasting Smile
The most crucial step in preventing relapse is to follow your dentist’s instructions. This includes wearing your retainers as prescribed. You also need to attend all of your follow-up appointments. This will allow your dentist the opportunity to see if you are maintaining your final results.
Typically, you will wear your retainers full-time just after treatment. Then, you should gradually transition to nighttime wear. Staying consistent with this schedule is vital to keep your beautiful smile.
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is also vital to prevent relapse. With a good oral hygiene routine, you can avoid several dental issues that can damage your smile. Therefore, you need to brush, floss, and use mouthwash regularly.
In addition, you should try to keep a healthy lifestyle. This means that you should avoid using your teeth in ways that you shouldn’t. These habits can contribute to relapse. For example, you shouldn’t use your teeth as tools–like opening packages. Also, biting your nails and grinding your teeth can contribute to relapse.
Pay attention to any signs of shifting teeth, no matter how subtle. If you notice changes, contact your orthodontist promptly.
Dealing with Relapse
In some cases, despite your best efforts, orthodontic relapse may still occur. If you notice changes in your smile, don’t panic. Contact your dentist immediately. They can assess the situation and recommend appropriate treatment options. Naturally, this may include wearing your retainers more often and more consistently. Conversely, you may need to undergo a minor adjustment.