Here at Alba Orthodontics, we hear from many adults who have had braces in the past but lost their straight smile over the years. Some wish they’d had treatment when they were younger and have never been happy with how their teeth look or function. Maybe you’ve also considered orthodontics but are on the fence about braces or feel that treatment is too big of a commitment at this stage. If this sounds familiar, we’ve got good news—our touch-up and retreatment options could be the perfect smile solution for you! Let’s explore what these include and how they can improve your oral health. Keep reading below to learn more!
First things first: what’s orthodontic relapse?
If you have had braces or clear aligners before but find that your teeth have begun shifting back to their original positions, that’s what we refer to as orthodontic relapse. This is a common phenomenon, with almost half of all patients experiencing some level of relapse within about ten years of completing their treatment. Short-term relapse generally happens less than one year after treatment has finished, while long-term relapse occurs more than a year post-treatment.
Many adults who have dealt with orthodontic relapse were told as teens that they could discontinue wearing their retainer after a certain time. However, the number of patients affected has caused the orthodontic field to reconsider its approach to retainer wear in recent years. Most orthodontists now agree that retainers should actually be for life. While that might seem a little overwhelming at first, most patients will only need to wear their retainers at night after a period of adjustment.
What causes orthodontic relapse?
The most common cause of orthodontic relapse is irregular retainer use. Although many people underestimate the importance of wearing a retainer once treatment is complete, the straightening process doesn’t stop once your braces come off! After the active phase of treatment has finished, the teeth, surrounding bone, and gums still need time to solidify in their new places. Regular retainer use protects the teeth from shifting and assists with long-term stabilization, too.
There can be other factors involved with orthodontic relapse. Chronic tooth grinding produces a continuous force that can strain your teeth. Over time, this can even alter your bite and cause misalignments. It’s also normal for your teeth to shift a bit as you get older. The front teeth in particular are susceptible to shifting under pressure due to the thinning enamel.
What does touch-up treatment and retreatment involve?
Our practice offers full orthodontic treatment for adults who have never had it before, as well as touch-ups and retreatments. When you schedule a free consultation with our Mechanicsburg office, you’ll receive an oral examination from one of our experienced orthodontists. They’ll work with you to determine which elements of your smile are most important to you, and create a customized treatment plan to correct the issues you’ve pinpointed together. Touch-up treatments in particular are limited in nature, meaning we can complete them in a much shorter timeframe and at less cost than full treatment!
There are a few different options available when it comes to addressing an orthodontic relapse. Monitoring the teeth is possible if you’ve worn your retainer exactly as directed and are experiencing only minor shifting. In cases like this, Dr. Alba may choose to leave things as they are for the time being and continue to monitor your teeth for any further shifting. Some minor movements can be corrected with a new or replacement retainer. If you’ve lost or broken your retainer, this is usually one of the first things we’ll do.
If Dr. Alba discovers 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, including those listed below.
Damon metal braces are the most widely used orthodontic appliance in our Mechanicsburg office and they come with a proven track record of success. They efficiently treat a variety of orthodontic issues and can be particularly useful in cases that are more severe or complex. While braces have been around for a long time, they have undergone some impressive changes in recent years. Damon metal braces are far more comfortable, effective, and affordable than previous designs were. The self-ligating brackets don’t require adjustments, so that means less time in the chair, too!
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 we use with clear braces 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 teen and adult patients.
InBrace lingual braces
Lingual braces are a great cosmetic alternative to traditional braces for straightening your teeth. Rather than being fixed to the front of your teeth, they’re placed on the back. Lingual braces work in the same way as traditional braces by applying gentle, continuous pressure to your teeth to slowly shift them into their new, straighter positions. This treatment can take anywhere from 6-30 months, depending on how severe your bite or overcrowding is.
Instead of brackets, wires, and bands, the innovative Invisalign system uses a series of customized clear aligners to shift the teeth over time. The aligners are designed to be removed when a patient is eating, drinking anything other than water, and brushing their teeth. This gives them an extra measure of freedom and flexibility that our 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 successfully straighten smiles. 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 by Dr. Alba, Invisalign can be just as efficient as braces at treating many of the most common orthodontic issues.
Straighten out your smile with Alba Orthodontics
Whether you need a full round of first-time treatment, a few touch-ups, or retreatment to straighten your smile back out, we’ve got you covered! If you’re ready to discover (or rediscover) a confident smile and improved oral health, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with our expert team.