Around 200,000 people are fitted with braces every year in Britain. They are either removable or fixed and most patients are now given a removable brace at the end of treatment and told to continue using it at night. However a lot of people discontinue wearing them.
It will make most youngsters recoil in horror, but dental experts are now advising that braces be worn for life to prevent teeth moving out of alignment once they have been straightened.
The British Orthodontic Society (BOS) has launched a new campaign to encourage patients to continue wearing wires at night even when their teeth have been fixed.
It comes after research found that 70 per cent of people who had braces need treatment again after 10 years.
Simon Littlewood, a consultant orthodontist at St Luke’s Hospital, Bradford, and the BOS spokesman on retention, said: “If you don’t wear your retainers, we now know the teeth will go crooked again and all that hard work will be lost.
“In the past, we used to think that once patients reached a certain age, their teeth would eventually be stable.
“Now we know that’s not true, there is potential for teeth to keep moving throughout life – it’s almost like a normal ageing phenomenon.”
Dr Mick Horton, Dean of FGDP(UK), said: “Those working in General Dental Practice should ensure that, before referring for orthodontic treatment, patients are aware that without a personal long-term commitment to retention, it is more likely than not their teeth will relapse. Together as a team we can provide and maintain that new smile.”
Eddie Crouch, Vice Chair, British Dental Association said: “In many cases, orthodontic treatment can be a lengthy process, but once it has concluded it can come as a shock that it may be necessary to wear retainers for life.
“There has been little co-ordinated information for patients on the reasons for this and what they need to do if they break or need to be repaired, and the new campaign by the BOS is a welcome addition to closing this gap.”
Richard George, BOS Director of External Relations, commented: “Hundreds of thousands of young patients in the UK are referred for orthodontic treatment annually.
“Now that more people in the UK than ever before are benefiting from treatment the message ‘Hold That Smile’ is really important.”