Long-term stability: postretention changes of the mandibular anterior teeth.
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INTRODUCTION: Our objectives were to evaluate the long-term posttreatment changes of orthodontically corrected mandibular anterior malalignment and to determine the factors explaining these changes. METHODS: The sample consisted of 66 subjects (mean age, 15.4 1.7 years) selected from 7 private practices. The teeth had been retained for approximately 3 years and followed for 15.6 5.9 years posttreatment. Longitudinal study models and cephalograms were analyzed to quantify the malalignment and growth changes that occurred. RESULTS: Crowding (1.2 0.9 mm) and irregularity (1.5 1.8 mm) showed only small average increases over the postretention period; only 26% of the sample had more than 3.5 mm of postretention irregularity. Variation in crowding explained 16% of the differences among subjects in irregularity. Growth variables (posterior facial height and mandibular rotation) and interarch variables (incisor-mandibular plane angle, interincisal angle, overbite, and overjet) were not significantly related to malalignment. Postretention malalignment changes were related to posttreatment anterior arch perimeter, intercanine width, and arch form, together indicating that narrower arch forms are likely to show greater posttreatment malalignment changes. Patients treated with extractions showed significantly greater malalignment than those treated without extractions; this was related to arch form. Patients who received interproximal restorations after treatment also showed significantly greater postretention malalignment than patients who did not. CONCLUSIONS: Orthodontic treatment is not inherently unstable. Narrow arch forms and interproximal restorations are potential risk factors for the development of postretention malalignment.