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Your dentist or orthodontist will be the best person to help you with your decision.
Your orthodontic journey begins when your braces or appliances are issued but it doesn’t end when they are removed.
Teeth have a tendency to move back into their original positions or relapse. As a result, a retention phase is necessary after the removal of braces. Retainers will be issued to ensure that they remain straight long after treatment.
What causes relapse? What are your retainer options? How long must you wear your retainers?
Dr Johanna Choo, Senior Consultant from the
Department of Orthodontics at
National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), a member of the
SingHealth group, will answer these questions and more in this 'Ask the Specialist' Q&A forum.
This forum is open from
1 Mar to 25 Mar 2021.
To post your question, please log in as a member. If you are not a member, you can register for a FREE membership
If you have problems posting your questions, please email your questions to
Kindly note: Your question will only go live / appear on this page after the doctor answers it
Hi Dr Choo,
I have finished with my braces 8 years ago and have been wearing retainers ever since. However, my teeth would start to shift significantly even after 2 days of not wearing my retainers. By significant, I mean that the next time I wear my retainers it would feel quite tight. Was wondering if this is normal?
Answered by Dr Johanna Choo, Senior Consultant, Department of Orthodontics, National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS)
It is normal to feel some degree of tightness when replacing retainers at night. In general, retainers should be worn every night indefinitely for at least 8 hours. Some cases tend to relapse (shift) more than others and require extended wear. Growth and age related changes can affect tooth movement and mobility and may also cause relapse. If you experience significant shifting during the day, I would advise making an appointment with your orthodontist to check your teeth and your retainer.
I'm 59 years old. I can feel that my front incisors are still protruding outwards more and more each year. What can be done to prevent further movement or correct them? Thank you.
It is advisable to visit your dentist/orthodontist for a check up so that he/she can determine the cause of this worsening protrusion. If you have had braces before, relapse may be a cause of progressive protrusion. Age-related bone changes and/or gum disease can also cause teeth to drift and protrude. A retainer may be an option to prevent further protrusion but that will depend on your dental history, your bite and the health of your teeth.
Hi, my girl is 14 this year. She has overcrowding teeth especially at the lower front teeth. Would like to check whether is 14 a good time to consider straightening her teeth? If so, can advise which type is more suitable for her age as I understand now there are metal braces, ceramic braces as well as aligner. Appreciate your advice. Thank you.
In general, 14 is a good age to start braces. Conventional braces are made of high-quality stainless steel and are fixed to the teeth. Ceramic braces are similar; they are less visible but are more brittle and costly. Aligners are removable braces. They are also more aesthetically pleasing than metal braces and also costlier.
Besides aesthetics and budget, discipline is also a factor to consider. Aligners need to be worn at least 23 hours a day. If one set is not worn as often as they should, then the treatment may be compromised. Ceramic braces and aligners may not be suitable for all cases so it is advisable to consult your orthodontist to see if these are feasible options.
I was advised to remove a total of 4 premolars on the top and bottom arches of my teeth as they are overcrowded. Is it possible to only braces for one arch? I am mainly concerned with the aesthetics for only one of my arches. Alternatively, is expanding the dental arches a viable solution instead of removing premolars? I previously assumed I will not need to remove any more teeth after gaining extra space from my 4 removed wisdom teeth.
Thank you very much!
In general, moderate/severe overcrowding of teeth requires extraction. Expansion can provide some space for teeth to align but only in mild crowding cases. The wisdom teeth are at the back of the mouth and as they are quite ‘far’ from the site of crowding, removal does not provide space for alignment. Braces and extractions will change your bite and both upper and lower braces are usually required to re-adjust the bite effectively.
I have been wearing my retainer since I took out my braces 3 years ago. May I ask how often do I have to change my retainer? I am not sure if I should purchase a new set of retainer. Thank you Dr Choo!
Retainers do not usually have to be changed unless they are broken or do not fit well. If you have been using your retainers consistently and they are intact, you should be able to continue using them. Remember to follow the care instructions that your orthodontist gave you to prolong the life of your retainers. It is advisable to visit your orthodontist if there are any doubts regarding the fit of your retainers.
Must retainers be soaked in water daily when not used during the day?
Retainers can be soaked in water during the day. Alternatively, if you choose to store them in the box, remember to first clean them thoroughly and keep the box away from heat.