Retention of teeth after orthodontic treatment is important as the bone that is normally intimately adapted to the teeth is not well adapted at the time of orthodontic appliance removal. An immature form of bone fills voids between the tooth and bone within about 4 months in humans, but then bone mineralization is not fully matured until about 12 months. Additionally, the connective tissue fibres in the gingival (gum) tissues do not remodel readily and act like elastic bands trying to pull the teeth back toward the original tooth positions; estimates for gingival remodelling have been placed at 232 days in beagle dogs; however, the adaptation of bone in small animals occurs more quickly that humans, which may also reflect the relative gingival metabolism; possibly gingival remodelling times beyond 232 days for humans should not be unexpected.
The bottom line is that the teeth will move back toward the original position if not maintained for an individually dependant “retention period”. For more about retainers click here.
These opinions are meant for educational purposes and are in no way an exhaustive explanation of orthodontic diagnosis. Any suspicion of a condition mentioned should be confirmed with a certified specialist in orthodontics.