Our Answer: Only as long as you want your teeth to stay straight!
You are the person in charge of keeping your teeth straight. Teeth are not set in concrete, they are in bone. Because the bone around your teeth is continually changing (breaking down and rebuilding), your teeth may shift after your braces are removed. Scientific articles published in the "American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics" (AJO) from 1988 to the present, indicate that orthodontic researchers don't know how long you need to wear your retainer(s). These articles indicate that there is no way to predict how your teeth will react when retainer(s) are removed. About half of the undesired tooth movement takes place in the first two years after you stop wearing your retainer(s). Some crowding of the lower front teeth may be part of the aging process similar to gray hair and wrinkled skin. The only way to ensure continued satisfactory alignment is by the use of retainers to some degree, perhaps for life. They help keep everything straight. The amount of wear will vary from patient to patient. Orthodontists know from experience that you, the patient, actually decide when you think the retainer is unimportant and stop wearing it or ask to have it removed. The references below will give you more information that will allow you to make an informed decision when you are contemplating stopping your retainer. You must be willing to accept the fact and the risk that the degree of tooth position stability in your mouth is unknown. We expect changes in our bodies as we grow older, and teeth are no exception.
Post retention evaluation of stability and relapse-Mandibular arches with generalized spacing by Drs. Robert Little and Richard Riedel in the Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 1989;95:37-41
An evaluation of changes in mandibular anterior alignment from 10 to 20 years post retention by Dr. Robert Little, Richard Riedel, and Jon Artun in the Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 1988;93:423-8.
Facial and dental changes in adulthood by Drs. Samir Bishara, Jean Treder, and Ms. Jane Jakobsen in the Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 1994;106:175-86.
Stability of orthodontic treatment outcome: Follow-up until 10 years postretention by Drs. Essam Al Yami, Anne Kuijpers-Jagtman, and Martin Van't Hof in the Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 1999;115;300-4
You may schedule an orthodontic
appointment with Dr. William Trepp in his Severna Park, MD office by calling
410.696.4624 or in his Clinton, MD office by calling 301.868.6200.
Written inquiries should be mailed to: 69 Robinson RD, Severna Park, MD
21146, USA or 8918 Woodyard RD, Clinton, MD 20735, USA