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  • Writer's picturePaula Anderson, R.D.H.

Orthodontic Relapse: Why Braces Aren't Enough

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Imagine spending thousands of dollars on a health solution only to find out that what you thought was a permanent fix, was actually much more short term. Unfortunately, for millions of patients who have worn braces, roughly 13% experience orthodontic relapse in just the first year. The numbers get even higher for individuals who undergo deep overbite correction, where the orthodontic relapse rate STARTS at 20% but studies have shown it can be as high as 40%! That’s like flipping a coin to know if braces will actually last long term, the only difference is this coin flip costs thousands of dollars and years of braces on your teeth.

doctor seeing her young patient

And remember in all of these research cases the patients were given after care retainers that were worn and monitored, imagine the chances of success if these cases didn't follow the retainer schedule. YIKES!

This can lead some patients to be treated with braces multiple times in their life, and it can be avoided. See, the reality is that braces, while effective, do not treat the root cause which is an orofacial-myofunctional disorder. In many cases our tongue is the culprit. When we don’t have proper tongue posture, which should have the tongue at the top of our mouth, it sets the stage for an imperfect smile and teeth that are pushed out of alignment.

dentist looking after patient's braces

As Orofacial Myofunctional Therapists we call this a tongue thrust, and if you have one, your smile will never be quite what you want it to be. Let’s try something together; grab a glass of water, try to swallow. Just a regular swallow, nothing special. Did your tongue press to the top of your pallet? If not where did it press? For many myofunctional therapy patients the answer is “my front teeth”. If that is you don’t feel alone, because I’m here to help.

Every 8th grade science student knows that the tongue is the strongest muscle in our body. Now add in the fact the average person swallows 500-700 times per day and it’s not hard to imagine how a tongue thrust which pushes the front teeth forward, and apart so many times per day can have a major effect on the dental alignment of the teeth. In fact, a 20 year old who underwent braces in middle school, but was never treated for a tongue trust would have had 1,460,000 instances of tongue thrust on their front teeth since the braces came off. This is why orthodontic relapse is such a pervasive problem for individuals who have had braces at some point in their lives.

I mean really, is there ANYTHING else that occurs one and a half million times between junior high and college?

This is why as a Myofunctional Therapist I say, “if you are gonna do something, let's do it right”. Let’s treat the root cause. Talk with your orthodontist about your concerns. You don’t want to be back in her/his office after only a few years getting fitted for braces again do you? Unfortunately that is exactly what occurs for so many orthodontic patients. Realistically, the braces and your orthodontist are fighting a losing battle, we have to treat the “why it's happening'' not just the “what has happened” if you ever want to take on Halle Berry for the best smile or just simply not receive frequent flyer miles to your local Orthodontist.

ceramic model of a mouth

All joking aside, orthodontic relapse is costly, and time intensive to correct. I want all of my patients, clients and friends to know the risks of not receiving proper, adequate treatment for this very common issue. And that is why I always customize a plan for you, and work with other providers to make sure you get comprehensive, permanent results from our very first session.

You only have one smile, together let's use the healing power of myofunctional therapy to help it shine as bright as it can. Send me a message or schedule a consultation if you think that you or a loved one is at risk from orthodontic relapse. Myofunctional Therapy is your solution.

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