Researchers at the University of California are working on a new technology to help improve compliance among retainer wearers. Their hope is that this will improve compliance among orthodontic patients, which will mean less relapse.

Why You Need to Wear Your Retainer

Your retainer is an essential part of your orthodontic treatment. After your teeth have been moved, they are a little unstable. After all, your bone has just been reshaped around them, and the newly formed bone may not be as hard as the rest of the bone in your jaw. Under the influence of a bite formed around your teeth in their previous configuration, it’s more likely that your teeth will drift back into place right after treatment is completed. Your retainer prevents them from doing that while the new bone hardens, so it’s usually worn full time for about 60 days.

Once the new bone is hardened, it’s still possible for your teeth to drift out of place, which is why occasional wear of your retainer is recommended to help hold your teeth in place.

But People Don’t Wear Them

Although retainers are really important to help your teeth stay in place, about 70% of patients forget why they should wear their retainer, and overall wear time is less than 12 hours a day on average, although at least a third of patients overestimate the amount of time they wear their retainer.

The main reason why people don’t wear them is simple: they just forget, although the second most common cause of not wearing a retainer is discomfort.

How the New Retainer Helps People

But the new retainer being developed at the University of California, called SmartByte, is designed to use Bluetooth technology to link up with a person’s smartphone and remind them to wear their retainer. It can also track how much a person is wearing their retainer and pass that data onto an orthodontist or dentist.

This isn’t the first time anyone has made a retainer that tracks usage. But in the past these retainers had to be linked up with their data base at the dentist’s office, which wasn’t any good for reminding patients to wear their retainers every day.

Since smartphone usage is highest in the age groups that are most likely to get braces (70% of teens and 79% of young adults age 18-24 use smartphones), this seems like a logical tool to help remind people to wear their retainers.

But if you’ve already had braces in Orange County and forgot to wear your retainers, you know the consequences: your teeth may have shifted. Fortunately, braces are easier the second time, and we have more options, such as Invisalign Express for people who have had braces in the past. To learn more about fixing teeth that have relapsed, please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.