Due to numerous biological and lifestyle factors, our teeth are almost always shifting. If you’ve forgotten to wear your retainer and begin to see movement in your mouth, this is how you can fix your teeth after not wearing your retainer and get to the perfect smile you achieved post-braces.
Once your braces come off, you’ll be fitted with a retainer to help keep your teeth in the same places as your braces left them. Your retainer is moulded to your newly straightened teeth, and especially for the first six months following treatment, it’s absolutely essential to wear your retainer at all times to maintain optimal results. Night-time retainer wear is recommended for life, or as we say ‘for as long as you want your teeth to stay straight’!
What are the Effects of Not Wearing a Retainer After Braces?
Over time, we understand some patients may become less diligent about wearing their retainers. Sometimes, life gets in the way and your retainer becomes regarded as something that collects dust – rather than a very important tool helping you keep your perfect teeth from shifting.
Some people may experience a shift after as little as a week of not wearing their braces, so if you neglect to put your retainer in for a year, you may notice a significant difference between when you first had your braces removed and now.
Proven research indicates that patients who do not wear their retainer after having braces removed are at risk of having their teeth move and shift. The results of not wearing your retainer can mean that your teeth will begin to move. This is particularly a concern for patients with more severe orthodontic conditions such as crowding or severely misplaced teeth, as the teeth could possibly move back to their previous state.
What Does Tooth Relapse Look Like?
Patients who misplace their retainers and don’t replace them or just don’t feel like putting them in will likely notice some changes. Your bite may actually begin to revert to what it was like before your lengthy orthodontic journey. For example, an overbite may return, and your teeth will likely begin to crowd forwards.
If the Shoe (retainer) Fits!
If you decide to finally wear your retainer after a year of neglect and you can still fit it over your teeth, you are incredibly lucky! Best case scenario is that you’ll be able to fit the retainer on – even if it’s a bit tight. At the very least, returning to wearing your retainer consistently may help repair this relapse and shift your teeth back to their desired positions.
Unfortunately, after not wearing your retainer for some time, it’s much more likely you will not be able to fit the retainer over your teeth at all. If this occurs, book an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible and they will create a new retainer for you that will hold your teeth in their current position. This is likely not as desirable for many patients because they will notice they’ve lost some of the straightness they were so excited about when they first had their braces removed. However, preventing further shifting is better than allowing time to wreak additional havoc on your newly straightened smile.
Wearing Your Retainer
Do I Have to Wear my Retainer Forever?
Simply put, you have to wear your retainer full-time immediately after you have your braces removed. You won’t necessarily need to wear your retainer full-time forever, but it should be worn part-time as instructed by your Orthodontist to avoid relapse and any shifting of teeth.
What Happens If You Don’t Wear Your Retainer?
Once you have your braces removed, your orthodontic journey is not over. It’s essential to continue wearing your retainer as instructed by your orthodontist If you do not wear your retainer as directed by your orthodontist, your teeth may revert to their original position, thus losing the teeth straightening progress you made during your orthodontic treatment.
Will My Teeth Shift If I Don’t Wear My Retainer for a Week?
If you try and put in your retainer after not wearing it for a week, you may notice it might feel a little tight. After a few hours of wear, it will feel less tight as your teeth will begin to move into position. You may feel a little pain or some tender gums and teeth during this process, as it is similar to the slight pain of wearing braces, however, this should cease after some time.
Take Care of Your Retainer and Your Smile
You can’t maintain the full, beautiful results you achieved with braces if you do not wear your retainer consistently. Not wearing your retainer can lead to challenges with how to fix your teeth after they have shifted. Once you realize your teeth have shifted, it will likely be too late to try and get them back to as-perfect-as-possible without reapplying your braces. We recommend creating a nighttime oral hygiene routine that includes always putting in your retainer.
No matter what causes your teeth to shift, at Wonder West Orthodontics we will never make you feel guilty about your journey toward your best-possible smile. If you have issues with shifting, book an appointment with us and we will be happy to help you get back on track, so you can enjoy the teeth you want to see smiling back at you in the mirror.