Besides wearing an Essix and bonded retainer what else can I do to keep my teeth in position?

Mark, I have some questions regarding keeping teeth straight after orthodontic procedures and would be really grateful if you could answer them for my records!

1) When you straighten teeth and the process is complete, is it realistic to say that you can retain them for life using Essix and bonded retainers? Although I finished my treatment 7 years ago, I’ve noticed that although I wear my Essix retainer 3 x a week, my lower incisors get tender and keep spacing apart back and forth. This makes me really nervous knowing that despite my commitment to retention, my teeth can still move – I like them the way they are!

2) Does the quality of Essix and bonded retainers affect the teeths retention and if so, how can we be sure that we get quality retainers to keep the teeth straight?

3) As many of us live well into our 80’s and beyond, when we have orthodontic treatment when we are younger, can we really only have it done once for life? I don’t really want to repeat orthodontic treatment just because i’m going to get older but like your philosophy I believe a good smile throughout our life is worth investing in so I want to keep mine that way. Can we really keep the same results we get when we are in our 20’s in our 80’s too?

4) As I believe retention is a lifetime commitment, I want to keep my teeth straight as best I can but I know we can’t keep with the same orthodontists for life (as they retire) so are we still able to have retention appliances remade for us by other orthodontists elsewhere down the line of life? What should we do if our teeth do shift and we see a change and we don’t have an orthodontic practice anymore?

5) And finally, is there a way we can stop our teeth shifting apart from wearing our retainers religiously? I know our teeth shift with age but can we really defy the process?

I’m just thinking of the future as my teeth are top priority for me so your advise would be a gem! Thanks

Hi and thanks for such great questions.

I’ll try to answer them as best I can as follows:

1. It sounds like you don not have a bonded retainer on your lower incisors? I’d suggest you look in to getting one if not as often wearing just an Essix retainer is not sufficient. Seek some advice from your dentist or orthodontist who carried out the treatment about how best to go about this.

I’d also advise that you have a ‘laboratory made, custom ‘ bonded retianer rather than one made by the dentist chairside for the best possible fit and adaptation to your teeth.

Stability can be affected by the bite so I’d make sure you have that checked as it may need to be adjusted to stop adverse tooth movement.

Stability is also affected by the type of orthodonti treatment used. In general, fixed orthodontics gets better long term stability but that’s a generalisation. Did you have treatment with ‘braces’ of something like Invisalign?

2. Yes (as mentioned above). The quality often depends on the choice or retianer and the laboratory who carries out the work

3. Orthodontic treatment can be carried out more than once but it would be ideal to limit the treatments to as few times as possible

4. Yes, retention is life long, I agree. Any good orthodontist or dentist who practices a lot of orthodontic treatment, can help provide you with your retainers throughout your life. Any retiring dentist usually has someone who takes over his/her practice who could help maintain you. Seek out a recommended orthodontist if your last orthodontist has gone or you have moved away. Your general dentist can help with a recommendation.

5. Sometimes it’s impossible to stop some movements but the best thing to do is to be in a good fixed retianer and maybe have it repalced if it’s not functioning properly. Have your bite checked to see if that is contributing to movement and of course make sure your gum health is checked often as well

Hope that helps


dr mark hughes

Dr Mark Hughes

Harley Street Dental Studio
52 Harley Street, London W1G 9PY
Web: Tel: 020 7636 5981

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January 11th, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Ame Says :

I had the metal braces for about 3 years and a half (crowded teeth and over jet/bite problem) then I wore my Hawley’s regularly for 2 years (24/7 and even while eating!)but my teeth shifted (lower canine and front teeth) so I had to go again with braces but this time with the Invisilign system and it worked pretty well for 5 months or so then my doctor suggested I get the permanent or bonded retainers because he is fearing that my teeth may shift AGAIN but I want the Essix one to keep the new 3D position of teeth intact or unchanged .I do not what to choose. could you help? And do you suggest bonded and essix together at the same time? Is that possible?

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