Braced for the Long Term: What Happens if Braces Are Never Removed?

Posted on: 30 March 2018

When a patient decides to get braces to straighten their teeth, they make a long-term commitment. That means they could be in braces for as long as 24 months, which is the average for orthodontic treatment. However, life has a habit of springing surprises. If a patient is no longer able to see their orthodontist, it is best that they remove their braces.

If a patient decides to do nothing, i.e. if they leave their braces on instead of removing them, there could be some serious ramifications for their health.

Braces Need to Be Constantly Adjusted

On average, orthodontists adjust and tighten their patients' braces once every 6 to 8 weeks. This allows them to plan each stage of movement and make the necessary adjustments with each visit. Therefore, if a patient suddenly stops visiting their orthodontist, their teeth will cease to move within 2-3 months time. After that time, virtually no movement will occur.

Without the guidance of an orthodontist, braces that are left on for too long will begin to have a negative impact on a patient's oral health.

Brackets Attract Plaque

Since brackets make brushing and flossing more difficult, plaque can build up around them over time. With the guidance and advice of an orthodontist, this issue can be spotted and dealt with before it becomes a problem. However, if a patient stops going to their orthodontist, they no longer have the benefit of a professional opinion every 6 to 8 weeks.

Moreover, orthodontists often adjust brackets over the course of a patient's treatment. These adjustments also help to keep plaque buildups at bay. If brackets remain in place for years, plaque could buildup in hard to reach places, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

Some Brackets May Later Dislodge

Under normal circumstances, when a bracket dislodges, an orthodontist will reattach it. However, if a patient no longer sees their orthodontist, their brackets will gradually dislodge. This is not only unsightly, but is also damaging to teeth, as the abrasive nature of the glue will attract plaque.

Removal is the Safest Option

The biggest risk of leaving braces on for years is the damage caused by dental plaque. Unless a patient is especially meticulous with their oral hygiene, eventually, their teeth will begin to rot. Bacteria may also attack gum tissue, leading to gum disease. Gum disease attacks the gum tissue, periodontal ligaments that hold teeth in place and the bone that surrounds teeth.

When a patient is unable to continue treatment, immediate removal is the safest option. Wherever a patient is, they may be able to locate an orthodontist who will remove their braces for them for a small fee. This will prevent any damage from occurring as a result of plaque. 

For more information, contact an orthodontist or dentist.