Here at Dream Orthodontics, we understand what a big investment orthodontic treatment is. When your braces are finally removed or you use your last aligner, it’s something worth celebrating! Seeing how all your hard work and dedication has paid off is an amazing feeling, and when you leave the orthodontist’s office, you have every intention of wearing your retainer exactly as directed. And you do…at first, anyway. Over time, however, you start to forget about it more and more often. Then one day you wake up and realize you can’t even remember the last time you saw your retainer!
You know you need to replace it, and keep reminding yourself to call the orthodontist about scheduling an appointment. Like lots of things in your busy life, it keeps getting pushed to the bottom of your to-do list until the day you notice something is a little bit off with your smile. On closer inspection, you can see that your teeth have shifted and started to move back towards their old positions in your mouth.
If that scenario sounds familiar to you, you aren’t alone. We see many adult patients in the same situation, wanting to know what we can do to make things right again. Fortunately, Dr. Morra is experienced in this kind of touch-up treatment to correct orthodontic relapses! If you’re finally ready to get your smile back on track, we can help. Keep reading below to learn more about what causes an orthodontic relapse, and what Dream Orthodontics can do to fix it.
Orthodontic relapses go beyond the retainer
Irregular retainer use is the most common reason for teeth shifting after orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, many patients underestimate the importance of retainers, especially once a bit of time has passed. The truth is, treatment doesn’t stop once your braces come off or aligners run out! The teeth and surrounding bone and gums still need time to solidify in their new locations after the initial phase of treatment is complete. Wearing your retainer as directed by Dr. Morra will help protect your teeth from the forces trying to pull them back to their previous positions. This assists the stabilization effort over time.
Having said that, there can be other reasons for an orthodontic relapse, too! These include, but are not limited to:
Genetics and natural aging
Even if genetics gave you a beautiful smile to work with, you might have noticed your teeth shifting a bit as you grow older. This is a common occurrence, especially in the front teeth, which tend to be more susceptible to shifting under pressure due to the thinning enamel.
If you’re a tooth grinder, you’re probably already aware of the damage it can cause! Chronic tooth grinding produces a continuous force that can place a strain on your teeth over time. It even has the ability to alter your bite and cause misalignment.
If you’ve lost one or more teeth due to trauma, decay, or periodontal disease, the teeth surrounding that empty space may begin to drift towards it. If this is left uncorrected for a long enough period of time, it can eventually lead to a misaligned bite.
A note on the importance of retainers
Many patients don’t understand why retainers are so essential to long-term orthodontic success. As we briefly mentioned above, your teeth aren’t the only things we want to stay in place once the initial phase of treatment is complete. The gums and bones in your mouth will need to align to these new positions, too. The tissues surrounding the teeth can take a little longer to align, but wearing a retainer regularly helps this process along, further stabilizing your bite.
Put another way, the teeth aren’t just fixed in the jaw. Each one is held in its socket by elastic ligaments that attach the roots to the bone. These ligaments are living tissue that are affected by the movement of the teeth, and the attachment is what allows for the small movements of the teeth during treatment. When we put tension on and around the teeth with braces or aligners, it allows new ligaments to form.
Once the first phase of treatment is complete, those same tissues, ligaments, and bone will need some time to stabilize. If there is no tension, the teeth will be less stable, and will almost always begin moving back to their old positions. Regular retainer use provides the pressure needed to keep your smile exactly where it’s meant to be!
Treating orthodontic relapses
If your smile isn’t as straight as it used to be, don’t worry. We can help! If you’ve been wearing your retainer properly and are experiencing only minor shifting, we may be able to simply monitor your teeth for the time being. In some cases, we can correct these minor movements of the teeth by creating a new retainer for you.
If you’ve experienced a significant relapse, we may recommend re-treatment. The good news is that correcting a relapse often takes much less time than your original treatment did! Dream Orthodontics offers a variety of treatment options to help re-straighten your smile and improve your oral health. From traditional metal braces to Invisalign clear aligner therapy, we’ll find the perfect treatment for your unique smile and specific needs!
Get your smile back on track with Dream Orthodontics
Whatever the reason for your orthodontic relapse, our expert team is here to help you find your best smile again! We have years of experience providing the highest-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in South Surrey and the surrounding communities. It’s our goal to give you a positive and stress-free orthodontic experience from start to finish, whether you need a new retainer or are looking at a whole new set of braces. If you’re ready to get your smile back on track, get in touch today and schedule a FREE consultation!