Orthodontic Relapse Part 1

Orthodontic Relapse: Teeth On The Move

Orthodontic relapse is an oral condition which usually occurs when orthodontic treatments have been completed and your teeth begin shifting into unfavorable positions. Some relapses can be so severe your teeth will revert back to the same position they were in before you started your treatments.

This would be a huge disappointment that may cause you to have to repeat the process all over again, costing more time and money. Other relapses can be less impactful, but still devastating.

This is Part 1 of this article series "Orthodontic Relapse", we encourage you to check out Part 2 when you can.

#9. Not wearing your retainers consistently is a big mistake.

Orthodontic Relapse: Not wearing your retainers

There are so many people who wear braces and have their teeth perfectly aligned, only to discover years later that their corrected alignment and bite has shifted.

The failure to consistently wear your retainers is the most common cause of an orthodontic relapse.

Because of this trend most orthodontists recommended you make a lifelong commitment to wearing your retainers daily, or at the very minimum 2 -3 times a week.

Appliances which are easily removed for cleaning, and fixed retainers which are used for orthodontic relapse management - maintenance, are very effective in achieving a successful outcome.

By using your retainer religiously and monitoring its effectiveness your chances of maintaining your corrected alignment will increase dramatically.

#8. Not following up with your orthodontist

An important aspect of your follow up care is to return to see your orthodontist for periodic checkups. This will be a key element in your long-term success, as it’s vitally important to periodically check to make sure your removable retainers, your bite, and alignment are still stable. Furthermore, it will allow your orthodontist to perform any minor adjustments that may be required. In the event your teeth are discovered to be shifting, an early intervention may thwart a catastrophe.

The fit of your appliance should be monitored regularly and adjusted when necessary. In some cases where your orthodontist has made a glue-in permanent retainer (wire) and it’s been installed on your lower arch, it should be checked routinely.

Orthodontic Relapse: Not following up with your orthodontist

If your fixed retainers loosen or break it is imperative that you replace them immediately or a relapse can occur.

For optimum long-term results, post braces consultations and checkups with your dentist should occur at least once every 6 months.

#7. Untreated myofunctional and neuromuscular predispositions will cause an orthodontic relapse

Myofunctional disorders evolve as a result of environmental or learned factors and neuromuscular predispositions are influenced by skeletal (fundamental) and structural mechanisms of the face (muscles, jaw, jaw joints). Neuromuscular or functional issues with your face, jaw, or mouth that continue to put undue pressure on the teeth can cause a relapse. For example, if you have a strong - muscular tongue or very strong bite, it can force your teeth to move into unfavorable positions even after the retainers are delivered.

Most orthodontist will try to treat bad habits, like tongue thrusting, breathing through your mouth, swallowing issues or thumb sucking before starting a case.

These types of habits (if present) represent important etiology aspects of a case that must be eliminated, otherwise your corrected alignment will begin to relapse shortly your treatment has been completed.

Dr. Chi an orthodontist at WIC recalls a case where the patient had to be retreated 3 times because of tongue thrusting. "He relapsed with an open bite just 6 months after debonding."

Orthodontic Relapse: Untreated myofunctional and neuromuscular predispositions

When myofunctional issues are present it is extremely important to seek out appropriate professional support from a myofunctional therapist.

Unfortunately, many orthodontic treatment patients who have a myofunctional issue may not realize it, others may simply be unaware of the complexities, risks and disheartening results of an orthodontic relapse.

Therefore, engaging in therapy to change your habit and to support the stability of your teeth (bite alignment) is vitally important.

#6. The effects of Genetics may be the root cause of your relapse

The current clinical perspective relative to genetic predispositions has been proposed as the basis for the etiology of malocclusions. And like any other questions that are unresolved scientifically, the perceptions regarding monogenic, or mendelian forms of inheritance remain debatable.

Nevertheless, even if you never considered orthodontic treatments and you naturally were gifted with straight teeth and a beautiful smile. Thanks to genetics, you may find your teeth shifting, and on the move as you grow into adulthood, and face the inevitable aging process.

The impact of your personal genetics in relation to orthodontic treatment and care if not fully understood or treated can lead to an orthodontic relapse. This is a fact of life, no matter how long you’ve been able to maintain your corrected alignment.

Some people will be more prone to tooth loss and periodontal disease, because of their genetic pre-disposition.

A genetic condition or disease can be passed down from one or both parents or can be a result of random errors in the body’s gene pool. Essentially, a nonworking or missing gene or genes can trigger a genetic disease.

Therefore, it’s vitally important to take exceptional care of your teeth, by preventing a relapse. Investing in regular dental checkups and excellent daily home care and hygienic maintenance will also support your long-term oral health.

#5. The role of late stage tooth eruption

Orthodontic relapse: The role of late stage tooth eruption

The role of the 3rd molar is extremely important in cases where problems are indicated and should be assessed separately. Third molars (aka wisdom teeth) erupt very late in the dentition development process.

Third molars erupt in most cases between the ages of 18 – 21, as by this time most younger patients have completed their orthodontic treatments.

The pressure exerted by the erupting 3rd molar is believed to be the cause of late crowding which causes relapse.

According to dental experts, there is continued abnormal growth patterns after orthodontic treatments with some younger patients with skeletal problems. This is due to the strong influence of their natural growth cycle which can be alleviated, by strict retention during the end of the growth period.

However, the influence of genetics is sometimes so strong that a strict regimen of retention alone in the growth period cannot prevent an orthodontic relapse. Orthodontic research has concluded that the early removal of third molars is necessary for long term stability following orthodontic therapy.

To learn more about the causes associated with an orthodontic relapse, please feel free to continue reading in Part 2 regarding the last 4 reasons. If you have questions relative to your oral health, we encourage you to seek dental attention without delay.

The Westcoast International Clinic is a full service international dental clinic, and they can assist you with your dental concerns and issues.

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