Did you have braces when you were younger, but are now experiencing some shifting of your teeth? Have you always been uncomfortable with the way your teeth look and function, but weren’t offered orthodontic treatment as a child or teen? Maybe you’ve been thinking about exploring orthodontics but don’t know how you feel about committing to treatment as an adult? Whatever your smile story is, Coleman Orthodontics can help you find your happy ending with our touch-up and retreatment options! Let’s look at what these include and how they can improve your oral health.
Back to basics: what’s causing your teeth to shift?
If you completed treatment before, but your teeth are now shifting back towards their original positions, there’s a name for that: orthodontic relapse. This is a common occurrence, with almost half of all patients experiencing some level of relapse within ten years of finishing up their treatment. Short-term and long-term relapses are both possible. Short-term relapse is one that occurs less than one year after treatment is complete, while long-term relapse happens when more than a year has passed.
Many adults now dealing with orthodontic relapse were told that they could stop wearing their retainer after a certain amount of time had passed. The number of patients this has affected in recent years has caused orthodontists to adjust their approach, however, and most now agree that retainers should be worn for life. While that might seem a little shocking the first time you hear it, don’t worry! Many patients will only need to wear their retainers at night after a period of adjustment to keep their newly straightened smile in place.
Why does orthodontic relapse happen?
Although there are many possible causes for orthodontic relapse, the most common is irregular retainer use. The straightening process doesn’t stop once your braces come off or you use all your clear aligners! Some patients underestimate the importance of retainers, but after you complete the active phase of treatment, the teeth and surrounding bone need time to solidify in their new position. Regular retainer use helps with this by protecting the teeth from shifting and assisting with long-term stabilization.
Other factors can cause or exacerbate orthodontic relapse. For example, chronic tooth grinding produces a continuous force that can strain the teeth and even alter your bite over time. It’s also normal for your teeth to shift a bit due to genetics or simply getting older. The front teeth are particularly susceptible to shifting under pressure due to the enamel thinning as we age.
How can touch-up treatment and retreatment help orthodontic relapse?
Coleman Orthodontics offers a range of services for adult patients, including touch-ups, retreatment, and full treatment options. When you schedule a complimentary consultation with our Syracuse office, we’ll take some photographs and X-rays of your smile before Dr. Coleman performs a quick oral examination. He’ll then work with you to determine which elements of your smile are most important to you before creating a customized treatment plan based on that information.
There are a few different options available when it comes to addressing orthodontic relapse. If you’ve worn your retainer exactly as directed and have noticed only minor shifting, Dr. Coleman may choose to leave things alone for the time being while he continues monitoring your teeth for further shifting. Other minor movements will need to be treated, and often respond well to a new or replacement retainer. If you’ve lost or broken your retainer, this is usually one of the first steps Dr. Coleman will take.
If you’re suffering from a significant orthodontic relapse, retreatment may be recommended. We offer our adult patients a variety of treatment options to correct relapses and create beautifully aligned smiles, including those listed below.
Most metal braces are composed of medical-grade alloys such as stainless steel and nickel, creating very durable brackets. They’re a highly effective option for treating a wide range of orthodontic issues and are capable of closing gaps while aligning the teeth relatively quickly. If you had treatment previously, you may find that today’s braces are more comfortable and stylish than past versions!
Clear braces function the same way as metal braces, but they come with the added benefit of clear brackets. This offers an incredibly subtle way to straighten teeth, especially when paired with clear, white, or tooth-colored elastics. The ceramic brackets are slightly larger and a bit more brittle than metal brackets, so we are more likely to use them on the upper front teeth than the lower teeth. Because they are much less visible than metal brackets, clear braces tend to be a popular choice with our older teen and adult patients.
Instead of brackets and wires, clear aligner systems use a series of customized clear aligners to shift the teeth. The aligners are designed to be removed when a patient is eating and brushing their teeth. This gives the treatment process a measure of flexibility that adult patients love! Patient compliance is an essential part of treatment with Invisalign. The aligners must be worn for 20-22 hours per day throughout the orthodontic process to be successful. Patients are also responsible for switching each aligner out with the next in the series every 1-2 weeks. This allows them to keep up with the movements their teeth are making. When worn as directed, clear aligners can be just as efficient as braces at treating many of the most common orthodontic issues.
Get the confident smile you deserve with Coleman Orthodontics
Whatever the current state of your smile, our expert team has got you covered! If you’re ready to restore your smile and improve your oral health, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with Dr. Coleman. We’d love to help you take the first step towards the confident smile you deserve!