January 30, 2024

I stopped wearing my retainer. Now what?

So you went through orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign® in the past. Maybe you started off strong wearing your retainer every night after treatment. Then, one night, you left your retainer in its case… and that turned into multiple nights… and months… and maybe even years!

Now you’re left wondering, “what do I do? Do I try to fit my retainer back in? Have my teeth moved out of place?” Your Just for Grins team is here to answer your questions! Here’s everything you need to know:


The unfortunate tale of orthodontic relapse

Neglecting your retainer for an extended period of time can lead to orthodontic relapse. When your teeth “relapse”, they move out of their beautifully-aligned post-treatment positions and start to revert back to their original pre-treatment positions. Worst case scenario!

But if you’re reading this blog because you stopped wearing your retainer, you already know about orthodontic relapse. So here’s what you can do moving forward:


Should I wear my retainer if it doesn’t fit?

If your retainer doesn’t snap into place without forcing it in, please do NOT try to make it fit. This can break your retainer – or worse, damage your smile. It’s important that you reach out to us, let us know that your retainer no longer fits, and we can discuss next steps!


Why do teeth move after braces or Invisalign?

Whether your teeth moved after braces years later or just months later, the reason behind it is the same:

The bone and tissues that support your teeth have minds of their own. Our bodies are constantly moving, growing and readjusting throughout life. Without the guidance of your retainer holding your teeth in the new positions we created, your teeth will continue moving and readjusting.

Retainers help stabilize your teeth in their new positions, allowing the surrounding bone and tissues to adapt and retain the changes.


Now what?

So, what are your options? If you start wearing your retainer again, will your teeth move back?

It depends on how long it’s been since you wore your retainer consistently. If your retainer fits back in your mouth and snaps into place without forcing it, then yes, your retainer can guide your teeth back in line with consistent wear. It may feel tight if you haven’t worn it for days or weeks; that just means there’s some realigning to do.

If you haven’t worn your retainer for months or years, and it doesn’t fit your smile anymore, do not force your retainer in place. Orthodontic retreatment will be necessary to re-correct the alignment.


Orthodontic Relapse Treatment (or Orthodontic Retreatment)

Let’s be honest. You didn’t plan on going through more than one orthodontic treatment, and it’s not the most exciting news to hear. The good news is that most cases of retreatment are a lot shorter and less costly than first-time orthodontic treatment.

Your second case will likely be a minor case, compared to the complexity of your initial treatment. Retreatment leverages your previous investment and focuses on fine-tuning and perfecting your smile.

Retreatment is personalized to your specific needs. Dr. Dunn or Dr. Schreiber will evaluate the current condition of your teeth and design a custom treatment plan to re-align them. You’ll get the exact treatment you need to achieve your desired results!


In need of orthodontic treatment, or ‘second-time braces’?

We would love to hear from you! We are your experienced orthodontist in Montgomery, Millbrook and Wetumpka, AL. Whether it’s your first time getting orthodontics, your second time or even your third, we’re here to help.

We provide personalized orthodontics with modern treatment options. Get Invisalign® clear aligners, or advanced self-ligating braces in metal or clear!

We’ll develop a custom treatment plan to help you love your smile again. Request your complimentary consultation today!

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Braces, Orthodontics, Uncategorized