What Is Retainer Relapse?

Orthodontic retainers from Carmel IN orthodontists

Orthodontic retainers aren’t everyone’s favorite. After all, if you just spent a few years wearing metal braces or aligners, the last thing you want to do is wear another appliance from our Carmel, IN, orthodontists. Unfortunately, retainer relapse can occur if proper precautions are not taken.

Here’s what you should know about retainer relapse and how you can avoid it altogether.

Causes of Retainer Relapse

Straight teeth are possible to achieve but whether they stay that way is another story. Most of the time, the reason for an orthodontic relapse is self-inflicted: you forgot to wear your retainer as instructed. It happens and is something our orthodontists are familiar with though it isn’t ideal.

Retainer relapse can also occur because of:

  • Natural Tendency: Unfortunately, teeth have a natural inclination to shift back to their original positions over time.
  • Age-Related Changes: As we age, our facial structures and oral tissues undergo changes, which can affect tooth alignment.
  • Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to teeth shifting.
  • Poor Oral Behaviors: Certain habits, like tongue thrusting, can exert pressure on teeth and cause relapse.

Depending on the degree of tooth movement, there are several ways Dr. Davila and Dr. Hani can treat misalignment after orthodontic treatment. For minimal shifting 1-2 years after braces, we can try to use the same retainer you were issued originally to encourage teeth to inch back into position.

When the original retainer no longer fits, we move on to plan B. We can create a new retainer to help encourage teeth and restore your smile. It’s when teeth have shifted significantly that our orthodontists may suggest a new phase of treatment though it may prove to be much shorter this time around.

Many patients choose Invisalign® clear aligners or InBrace® for instances of orthodontic relapse as both options are fully capable of correcting misalignment and are more discreet.

How You Can Prevent Retainer Relapse

If you want to avoid misalignment after you’ve finished wearing braces or aligners, you have to consistently wear your retainer(s). Being lax about retainer use can lead to you regretting it down the road. For the most part, tooth movement is preventable so it’s essential you use the tools we’ve given you.

In addition to wearing retainers, regular follow-up appointments are also important as part of a comprehensive retention plan. These appointments allow our orthodontists to monitor the stability of your teeth and make any necessary adjustments to the retention plan if needed. We can also use our time together to address any emerging concerns.

Long-Term Retention Plans

Every patient of ours is unique and thus, requires a personalized, long-term retention plan designed to keep teeth in ideal position. Our orthodontists will go over a recommended duration of retainer wear with you which typically ranges from several months to a year or more.

This schedule allows the periodontal ligaments, the tissues that hold the teeth in place, to adapt to their new positions and stabilize the bite. For certain retention plans, we may suggest that you wear your orthodontic retainer(s) at night. This approach helps to maintain the achieved results while offering flexibility during the day.

It’s important for patients to seamlessly incorporate retainer usage into their daily lives. An easy way to do this is to create a morning or bedtime routine where you pop in the retainer before going about other tasks. You’ll also need to regularly clean your retainer with a non-abrasive brush and store it in a protective case when not in use.

Make an Appointment

Retainer relapse can be a concern after orthodontics, but with the right knowledge and strategies, it can be effectively managed and even prevented. Our orthodontists in Carmel, IN, can help you take proactive steps to maintain your beautiful smile no matter if you’re still receiving treatment or you just finished. Call WestClay Orthodontics today at (317) 593-1400 to request an appointment.