While we at Cater Galante Orthodontics are passionate about straight teeth, we know the path to a beautiful smile can be quite a challenge at times. Which I think is why I occasionally get questions about the prospect of having to wear braces twice.

But don’t be afraid! Today, I’m here to answer that question and explain why some individuals end up with braces more than once.

Generally, there are two scenarios for why this happens.

Braces as a kid

Braces kidsOccasionally, we have a young patient who needs braces put on at the age of around 7 or 8. When children that young have braces, their teeth are still prone to a significant amount of movement and shifting as they age.

This means that even if they are perfectly straight when they are 7 or 8, they may once again require braces as a teenager or adult when all of their adult teeth have come in.

Children’s braces are different from adult braces in that they are only attached to a few teeth, are only on for a short amount of time (around 6 months), and are really most often used in extreme cases.

What’s an extreme case?

It would be considered an extreme case if the child’s teeth were sticking out too far, which can cause a hazard in the event that the child trips or falls. Another extreme case is if the child has a severe crossbite.

Sometimes, I have requests from parents to straighten a child’s teeth for aesthetic purposes, knowing that it’s likely the child will have to be in braces a second time once they have physically matured.

In our offices we don’t recommend braces on young children who still have baby teeth except in these specific circumstances. After they get them when they are young, they get the second phase which goes on all 28 teeth and are generally on from 12 months to 18 months at that point.

Retainer neglect

The second reason people end up in braces twice in their lives is because they don’t wear their retainers! If a patient gets braces on at age 12 or 13, gets them off at age 15, and then refuses to wear their retainers, it’s completely feasible that by 18 their teeth will once again be crooked.

In our offices, probably half of the adults we treat had braces as a kid and either didn’t wear retainers, were told they only had to wear them for a year or so, or never received retainers at all!

How long are you supposed to wear a retainer?

The truth is, you need them forever. The reason for this is that your teeth shift throughout your lifetime. As you age, the bone that holds your teeth in place starts to decrease little by little, which doesn’t mean your teeth will fall out, but they just aren’t supported as well inside your jaw bone.

You may have a few teeth crooked on the bottom and slowly but surely they will get more and more crooked. You may notice this when you are flossing and the contact is tight, the floss is shredding, etc. that’s just part of the aging process. Your teeth tend to lean inward and shift forward. If you keep your retainers it eliminates shifting.

Keep it clean

One retainer won’t last a lifetime–they need to be replaced.

Virtually any orthodontist can fit you for a new retainer and provide you with a shiny, clean, new retainer that will keep your teeth in shape for the rest of your life!

You should consider replacing your retainer every 10 years or so for the following reasons:

  • Wearing patterns from overuse can decrease the effectiveness

  • If retainers aren’t kept clean enough, bacteria can build up in the plastic, making them unsanitary

  • Technology is constantly advancing and if you don’t keep up, you may be missing out on excellent oral health options!

If you wear them your teeth will stay straight. It’s as simple as that! For more information on retainers, check out our blog from last month!

People need to understand that their teeth and smile are an investment and you have to take care of your investment! It’s like a car where you have to periodically get the oil changed or get things replaced on it. In our office we call retainers an insurance policy.

So now you know! It’s true that occasionally people end up wearing braces twice, but in the end it will all be worth it!

Drs Cater and Galante