Congratulations, your braces are finally off! After wearing braces and getting regular orthodontic appointments, you can now enjoy the results. Your dream smile is finally here!
However, while we hate to break this news, your orthodontic treatment is still not over. In spite of the beautiful, straight smile you enjoy, you still have some work to do to preserve it.
As your teeth adjust to their desired position after having your braces removed, a retainer stabilizes them. Once braces are removed, teeth have an uncanny tendency to return to their original positions due to their solid long-term memory. In the absence of braces, retainers act as temporary support for the bones and ligaments until they adjust to their new positions. Your teeth and bite will regress if you don’t wear your retainer as directed, rendering your previous orthodontic treatment ineffective.
Let’s talk about what happens if your retainer is worn improperly!
What Will Happen to My Newly Straightened Teeth if I Don’t Wear My Retainer?
Is it harmful to not wear your retainer? You might be surprised to learn that braces are only part of the tooth-straightening process. Once your braces have been removed, the second half of orthodontic treatment takes place while you wear your retainer.
Maintaining straight teeth requires using your retainer per your orthodontist’s instructions. You risk losing the smile you worked so hard to achieve should you ignore your retainer instructions. You may find your teeth shifting back to their original, crooked positions if you forget to wear your retainer.
#1: Your Teeth Will Undergo an Orthodontic Relapse Process
A relapse process begins when you lose or don’t use your retainer as prescribed. It takes about a month for a patient’s mouth to return to its original state after misusing a retainer. Regardless of whether misalignments were treated prior to lengthy orthodontic treatment, your teeth will return to their original positions. As an example, your jaw may return to its pre-treatment alignment if you were treated for an overbite.
A retainer will most likely not fit properly as soon as the relapse process begins. Retainers that don’t fit properly may cause pain because they pull teeth in different directions as they sit oddly on them. In addition, you will eventually no longer be able to fit your retainer around your teeth. The orthodontist will have to fit you for a new retainer once this occurs.
Will My Teeth Shift after Not Wearing My Retainer for a Week?
As soon as your braces are removed, your teeth will begin shifting back to their original positions. Although each shift differs in speed and severity, even the slightest shift can affect your retainer’s fit. To prevent the teeth from immediately relapsing after removing braces, you must wear retainers at night for the first week.
I Haven’t Worn My Retainer Consistently for a Month: What to Do?
Your bite will probably change after a month of not wearing your retainer, and your teeth will most likely move back toward their original positions. Therefore, it would be best if you got fitted for a new retainer at your orthodontist’s office as soon as possible. To compensate for the regression in your orthodontic treatment, you might also have to wear your new retainer day and night.
#2: Your Bite Will Also Change
The purpose of braces and aligners is to adjust your teeth, but wearing your retainer is essential to maintaining those adjustments. Retainers play a critical role in the success of braces and aligners. If you don’t use them as directed, they will not perform as intended.
After braces are removed, it takes time for the soft tissue and bone in your mouth to adapt to their new alignment. It is important to remember that retainers help to stabilize the new oral arrangement gradually, preventing it from shifting out of place. If you don’t wear a retainer, your bite will regress, and any previous overbites and underbites will reappear.
#3: You Might Have to Repeat Your Orthodontic Treatment Altogether!
Your journey to perfect, straight teeth isn’t over. Keeping your teeth perfectly straight after braces requires constant wear of retainers. Failing to wear your retainer for a month or two might result in having to repeat your orthodontic treatment entirely!
In addition, once your teeth shift, you cannot restore your beautiful smile without consulting an orthodontist and reapplying braces. Undoubtedly, this is a worst-case scenario that you should try to avoid at all costs. It may be challenging to establish a habit of wearing your retainers at first, but it will definitely be worth it in the end!
Wearing Your Retainer is the Safest Way towards Treatment Progress!
Contact Patuxent Orthodontics if you think that orthodontic retainers may be a solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic retainers or simply have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (240) 802-7217 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a free consultation! Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area, as well as the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Hollywood, Wildewood, or Leonardtown and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Maryland, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!