Some people are surprised to learn that the orthodontist will recommend appointments after the braces have been removed. The time period after the braces are removed can be critical to providing a good treatment result. Since the teeth have a strong tendency to move back to their original position after the braces are removed, retainers are provided to help prevent this from happening.
The initial 6 months post-treatment seems to be the most susceptible time period. There is significant variation from person to person, but the majority of people will need to wear the retainers full-time. It is possible that because of inadequate cooperation, normal wear and tear, or through some sort of direct damage, the retainers may not be functioning as they should. Therefore, many orthodontists will provide appointments to check the fit of the retainers, and also verify that the alignment of the teeth is holding.
The appointments are usually very quick and easy - but they are important to head off any potential complications that may arise. The sooner a developing problem is recognized and dealt with, the less difficult it is to remedy. A poorly fitting retainer over a long period could result in enough relapse so that the retainers will not be able to regain the original alignment. In that case options include making new retainers, placing braces again to re-treat, or leaving the misalignment.
Post-treatment checks vary from one orthodontist to another. Commonly, a visit shortly after the braces are removed, and then at longer intervals are recommended (i.e. 5 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year).