Orthodontic Retainers

That day has finally come – it is time to get your braces removed.  So now what?  Once your braces have been removed your teeth will still need support while they are getting used to their new positions.  The job of the retainers is to provide this support.  Unfortunately, there also may be an orthodontic relapse or shifting of your teeth if the retainers are not worn or cared for properly.  Here are some options if you experience orthodontic relapse.

Watch and Monitor

It may be the best-case scenario when you have noticed a minor shift in your teeth.  Usually, this can be quickly corrected by regularly using your retainer.  Making and attending follow up appointments with both your dentist and orthodontist is also important so they can keep a close eye on any orthodontic relapse and address the situation if need be.

Retainer Use

Usually orthodontic relapse happens because of improper or infrequent retainer use.  Retainers are most often a custom made, removable appliance.  The purpose of a retainer is to support the teeth while they are settling into their new positions.

If your retainer feels tight or makes your teeth hurt when you are wearing it, this is a sign that you are experiencing some shifting and need to start to wear your retainer more frequently.

If your retainer no longer fits, make an appointment with your orthodontist as soon as possible to discuss making a new retainer or possible retreatment options.

Bonded (glued –in) retainers are also sometimes used.  If the glue comes off these retainers it must be replaced as soon as possible.  Also, these bonded retainers can become active and start to move teeth.  If you notice this happening it is very important to see your orthodontist right away before problems develop with the gum and bone around the teeth.


In severe cases of orthodontic relapse, a second round of orthodontic treatment might be necessary to correct the problem.  If this is the case, there are a number of different options that are available to correct the problem.  These include:

  • Clear braces
  • Traditional metal braces
  • Clear plastic aligners


Do keep in mind that not all shifting is due to improper or infrequent retainer use. Some settling should be expected after your braces have been removed.

In order to avoid an orthodontic relapse, make sure to wear your retainer and attend your post-braces orthodontic appointments.  If you lose or damage your retainer, come in at once to get it repaired or replaced. If you have any further questions about orthodontic relapse or the options that are available to correct it, please contact me today.  Let’s keep those teeth in perfect alignment and remember to keep on smiling.