When I examine a new patient in their late twenties or early thirties, I often notice anterior crowding or spacing between their teeth. Many of these patients report that they had braces as a teenager, but as they got older their teeth started shifting. When asked if they stopped wearing their retainer they always sheepishly respond with “yes” or with “My orthodontist told me I no longer need to wear one”.
Often,they inquire what can be done about their malpositioned teeth and often Invisalign braces are a great option for repositioning teeth that have shifted after a patient has stopped wearing their retainer. In fact, all Invisalign Braces are is a series of clear plastic retainers that when worn twenty three hours a day, move your teeth into a more desirable arrangemnet. I always explain that if they choose to have Invisalign Braces they must have retension provided for or their teeth may shift afterwards.
Retension can be provided for by wearing thin Invisalign retainers on both the top and bottom teeth at night. Sometimes fixed retension can be placed by bonding a wire along the lingual surfaces of anterior teeth. Bonded retainers are ‘passive retension’ and require no action on the part of the patient. They have the disadvantage that they make it harder to floss between the anterior teeth and a patient can feel the wire with their tongue.