The successful outcome of any orthodontic treatment requires a team effort between the patient, orthodontist and the orthodontic team. The patient’s role is critical and his/her cooperation influences the duration of treatment, the outcome and stability of the teeth after the treatment has ended. Here is what a patient should expect in terms of involvement:
The patient is asked to keep the braces very clean by brushing and flossing. This will avoid problems like gingival inflammation or tooth decay. He / she may also be asked to wear elastics hooked on to the braces between the upper and lower teeth. These elastics are generally changed a couple of times a day and typically need to be worn full time (except while eating and cleaning teeth). Without adequate elastic wear, the treatment will take longer and the results obtained will likely not be ideal as the elastics play a major role in correcting the bite. With braces, patients are also asked to be careful with foods they eat in order to avoid debonding braces in between appointments. When a brace is debonded, the tooth that is no longer attached to the brace and wire and is free to move on its own. This will increase treatment time.
Invisalign and retainers
During active treatment with invisalign or retainers (appliances which are removable), patients are required to be very compliant in wearing them full time. Teeth move best when there is a constant force on them, which is why braces (that are not removable by the patient) work so well. It is only with full time wear that we will get the desired movements and bite correction. Patients need to make sure they carefully store their aligners or retainers in the retainer box they are provided with, when they eat or brush their teeth, to prevent it from getting lost or broken.
In any active treatment, it is also important that regularly scheduled appointments are respected and maintained. This is the only way to ensure that treatment is accomplished within the estimated time.
Once the orthodontic treatment is completed and you are happy with your beautiful smile and great bite, we need to maintain the results. This is accomplished with retainers. A patient may be given a removable passive retainer at the end of treatment to maintain tooth alignment or a permanent retainer which is a wire bonded to the inside of the upper and/or lower six anterior teeth. The removable retainer needs to be worn full time for the first year, and only when sleeping during the second year. It should be kept clean and adjusted regularly by your orthodontist to ensure that it is retentive and fits properly. Retention is for life. Even once we have completed our two-year follow-up of your treatment, it is imperative that some retention is maintained throughout the rest of your life. Teeth can move your whole life, regardless of age. However, when you have a very good bite, the tendency for teeth to move diminishes. If you want to ensure that the alignment is as ideal as possible we suggest trying on your retainers every day (if they are the removable type). This will help you determine if they fit and ensure that your teeth are still nicely aligned. If the retainers feel a little tight, you may need to wear them for a while to maintain alignment.
The permanent wire needs to be kept clean with proper brushing and flossing. To minimize the risk of it debonding, care needs to be taken with certain hard or sticky foods.