Retainers & teeth after braces: what to expect

Finally, the time has come to remove your braces. All your hard work and dedication has paid off and your new smile is officially here! Now, it’s time to move on to the next stage of your orthodontic treatment: retention

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see teeth moving after braces. Once your braces have been removed, it’s natural for your teeth to want to move back to their original position (this is called relapsing). 

Even after three years of wearing braces, your teeth have a long-term memory and movement can start to occur soon after your braces have been removed. With this in mind, your dentist will talk to you about retainers before removing your braces. This device will help your teeth, bones and gums adapt to their new position. 

You will need to wear your retainer regularly to ensure all the hard work you’ve put in over the last few years won’t be undone. 

In this article, we share everything you need to know about retainers and teeth after braces so you know what to expect and how to care for your brand new smile. 

Why are my teeth moving after braces? 

girl getting a checkup

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As time passes, some patients will notice their teeth moving after braces. This can happen for a number of reasons — for example, your teeth tend to move as part of the aging process. Teeth move towards the front of the mouth which can cause crowding and other aesthetic problems. Likewise, emerging wisdom teeth can force the rest of your teeth out of their new position.

Your teeth can also start to move if there has been a change in gum and bone health. Poor oral hygiene, diabetes, thyroid issues, osteoporosis and many other conditions can impact bone health.

To prevent your teeth from moving after braces, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene — this means wearing your retainer, brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes, flossing and visiting your dentist every six months for a professional clean. 

Different kinds of retainers 

Before removing your braces, your dentist will talk to you about retainers. There are three kinds of retainers available:

  • Removable retainers on both arches

  • One fixed-wire retainer and one removable retainer

  • Fixed wire retainers that are attached to the back of your teeth on both arches. 

A few days before your braces are removed, your dentist will take a scan and/or mould of your teeth to make the retainers. This will ensure your retainers fit well and are ready within 48 hours of removing your braces. The goal is to minimise any downtime with unretained teeth. 

Your dentist will also provide lots of instructions for wearing your retainer and caring for your teeth after braces. This includes how often and how long you have to wear your retainer each day.

How long do I have to wear my retainer?

After your braces have been removed, your dentist might give you a retainer to wear all day, every day for four months while others will be instructed to wear their retainer for up to 12 months. The important thing is to wear your retainer according to your dentist’s instructions — this is key to maintaining the results of your braces. 

Almost all dentists and orthodontists will give you some form of retainer to wear each night — indefinitely — after your braces have been removed. It might sound like a chore but if you don’t wear your retainer, you may need orthodontic intervention again within the next decade (or sooner).

Of course, it’s natural to forget to wear your retainer every now and then, especially if your braces have been removed fairly recently. For example, you might go away for the weekend and accidentally leave your retainer at home. It’s okay to miss a day or two of wearing your retainer because your teeth won’t move much in this timeframe. 

However, if you neglect to wear your retainer for weeks or months at a time, your teeth will start to shift out of alignment. 

When to contact your dentist

woman on the phone

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We know accidents happen — perhaps you’ve chewed on something hard and bent your fixed retainer, you’ve lost a removable retainer or it feels like your retainer doesn’t fit quite right anymore. If there’s anything wrong with your retainer, it’s crucial to get in touch with your dentist to have your retainer replaced, especially if it has been less than 12 months since your braces were removed. 

Any delay can cause your teeth to shift out of alignment.

If you ever have any questions about your teeth or your retainer, just give us a call on (02) 4971 1432 to book a consultation. We want to help maintain your stunning new smile for years to come!

Feature Image: Pexels

girl looking at teeth in smartphone camera

Retainers & teeth after braces: what to expect


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