Q:

Will my teeth shift if I don't wear my retainer?

A:

Quick Answer

Failure to wear a retainer as advised following orthodontic treatment can result in the teeth shifting, notes Tyler | Dumas | Reyes Specialists in Orthodontics. Not replacing plastic retainers after an appropriate period of time can also result in unwanted teeth movements due to the plastic fatiguing and stretching.

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Full Answer

After braces are removed from the teeth, pressure from the tongue; wear; and occlusion can cause them to move without a retainer to maintain their new, straightened position in the mouth, according to Jorgensen Orthodontics. Although a retainer cannot prevent 100 percent of movement from occurring, it helps keep movement to a minimum, and patients who neglect to wear their retainers may have to wear braces again to recorrect misalignments.

Sometimes, patients notice small, progressive changes in the positioning of their teeth within a few days or weeks of having their braces removed, explains Jorgensen Orthodontics. When this happens, it is important to report the observation to the orthodontist as soon as possible, as the patient's new retainer may require adjustments or replacement. Failure to address an ill-fitting retainer in a timely manner may result in the patient requiring more extensive treatments to fix tooth movements. In some cases, a patient's teeth may shift more over time than the slight amount expected despite wearing the retainer. If this is the case, the orthodontist can glue a retainer to the back of the teeth temporarily to help stabilize the teeth in the mouth.

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