QUESTION: My daughter had her braces removed when she was 13. Lately, it seems as though her lower teeth are looking crowded again. Why is this happening?
DR. BHATIA: Before I answer, I have questions for you. Has she worn her retainer? Has she had her wisdom teeth removed? In my practice, when patients have their braces removed, we tell them two things: 1) Retainers are for life; you should continue wearing them at night for as long as you would like your teeth to remain straight. 2) Have your dentist, during cleaning visits, look at the wisdom teeth for possible removal. At Kihei/Lahaina Orthodontics, we keep in close contact with the dentist throughout treatment. At the end of treatment, we send them "before and after" pictures and an X-ray showing the location of the wisdom teeth. Sometimes, even if the wisdom teeth have been extracted, the teeth may still exhibit this "drifting."
Q. How can we fix this relapse?
A. It depends on how severe the problem is. If you are noticing minor changes, and your daughter is wearing retainers, she may be able to have the wisdom teeth extracted and the retainer adjusted to get the teeth back in line. If, however, the teeth have moved a lot, it is likely that a retainer will not accomplish the necessary movement. We can now straighten teeth without the hassle of metal brackets and wires. Invisalign Teen's clear aligners are virtually invisible and removable, which means she can feel confident with her high school activities while we are straightening her teeth. We currently have many adolescents and adults in treatment with Invisalign for exactly this problem. For a more definitive diagnosis, I would encourage you to come in for a complimentary consultation. We will take digital X-ray photos, a series of digital photo scans, and can then give you a comprehensive diagnosis on how we can help her.
Dr. Bhatia has completed two full years of specialty training in orthodontics after obtaining her degrees in pediatric dentistry and general dentistry. Orthodontics is not part of what we do - it's all that we do! She is happy to answer any additional questions. Send them to her at Lahaina Orthodontics, 505 Front St., Suite 202, Lahaina, HI 96761, or visit www.LahainaOrthodonticsMaui.com. or www.KiheiOrthodonticsMaui.com.