Orthodontic relapse is when your teeth revert to their previous position undoing all your hard work and derailing your investment in your smile. According to research, 33% of patients experience mild to severe orthodontic relapse after a decade of completing treatment, primarily due to not wearing their retainer consistently.
What You Can Do to Prevent Relapse from Happening to You
Even patients with the best intentions stop wearing their retainers as instructed after a few months. Patients with irregular retainer use are most likely to experience a total relapse within two years post-retention. This is because your teeth shift out of their new position without pressure from the force of the retainer.
Sometimes teeth also shift due to wisdom teeth eruption, gum disease, missing teeth, and even temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). To prevent orthodontic relapse, try the following:
Wear your retainer as instructed
Wearing your removable retainer as instructed for at least two years is the best way to prevent your teeth from shifting. It takes at least one year for your teeth to stabilize after completing your orthodontic treatment and longer if you had gaps in your smile.
If you misplace your retainer or it is uncomfortable, visit your dentist to get a new one fitted.
Get a fixed retainer
A fixed retainer is a thin wire typically bonded to the inside surfaces of the front 4-6 bottom and top teeth. This permanent retainer can remain in your mouth indefinitely, ensuring your teeth don’t shift.
If your fixed retainer breaks, visit your dentist to find out if you need to have it replaced. In most cases, if you’ve worn it for longer than two years, you likely won’t need a replacement, but it depends on your smile.
Keep your follow-up orthodontic appointments
Although completing your treatment is a big day, your follow-up appointments are critical. Your dentist typically recalls you at 2, 6, and 18 months post-treatment to evaluate your smile and ensure your teeth aren’t moving.
Schedule routine cleanings and dental exams with your dentist
Regular hygiene cleanings and dental exams can help keep your mouth healthy. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss, causing your teeth to drift into the gap. Wisdom teeth can cause overcrowding, undoing your orthodontic work. If TMJ is caused by teeth grinding and remains untreated, it can cause tooth misalignment.
Your dentist can help you treat these conditions to maintain your oral health and straight smile.
What You Should Do if You Experience an Orthodontic Relapse
Short-term relapse typically occurs within 12 months post-retention. If this is your situation, you can simply start wearing your retainer again. The retainer may feel a little snug at first because it applies force to move your teeth back into their corrected position.
If the relapse is minor and your retainer no longer fits, we can fabricate a new one to prevent further shifting. However, if the relapse is moderate to severe, you may need retreatment.
Invisalign is an excellent alternative to traditional braces, especially for adult patients whose teeth have shifted. The removable transparent thermoplastic mouth trays are discreet and customized to your smile. They can straighten a single tooth or an entire arch. Treatment times can range from 6-to 24 months, depending on the severity of your relapse.
Regain Your Orthodontic Results
If you believe your teeth are shifting or have had any oral health issues that can affect your smile, schedule a dental check-up at TruBlu Dentistry. We can evaluate your teeth and gums and recommend the best options for restoring your straight smile.