Once you’ve achieved that perfect smile, it’s important to keep it that way, which is why maintenance is key.
Contrary to popular belief, just because you’ve worn braces doesn’t mean that you’ll have straight teeth forever. “After your braces come off, the rebound time is immediate, and teeth can shift back in a matter of days if there is nothing there to stop them,” says Chevy Chase, MD, prosthodontist Youssef Obeid, DDS. In order to maintain straight teeth you’ll need to wear a retainer, which is made of molded acrylic and a wire that holds teeth in place. “The teeth are most vulnerable to movement immediately following orthodontic treatment since they are used to being in a mobile state,” says New York cosmetic dentist Steven Roth, DMD, who advises patients to start wearing their retainers the night their braces are removed. “Teeth aren’t very smart. They shift when force is applied, and once that force is taken away, they’ll shift back,” says Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling, DMD, who advises patients to wear their retainers every night for three months—the average amount of time it takes teeth to stabilize after treatment. After that, it’s all about finding the right happy medium. “I tell patients to wear their retainer every night for the rest of their life, taking a few days off when needed. If the retainer feels a little tight when you put it back in, then you’ll need to wear it again until it’s not tight,” she says.
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