You put up with braces for a year or more, you diligently followed the instructions of your orthodontist and always maintained great oral hygiene, and now the big day is here: your braces are getting removed! Your dedication has earned you a well-deserved, healthy smile. Unfortunately, your celebration may be cut short if you notice your teeth are shifting out of place even though you have been wearing your retainer. This phenomenon, while completely normal, can be extremely frustrating. Read on to learn what to do if you sense your teeth are not staying put.
Teeth Can Move Once Braces Are Off
When wearing Invisalign or braces, your teeth were secured in place. During treatment, your Houston orthodontist, Dr. Mizell makes minor adjustments that cause the teeth to shift a minuscule amount each time. Since your teeth no longer have the pressure once treatment is complete, there is a normal settling process that occurs. In some cases, these tiny shifts can actually improve the bite even more.
Additionally, your body undergoes constant change. Just as the levels of elastin and collagen in our skin decrease over time and lead to wrinkles, the structures that secure our teeth in place also experience aging. The tongue also causes normal wear and tear that can influence changes in tooth placement. That is why expecting zero tooth movement once your braces are removed is unrealistic. An experienced Houston orthodontist can assist you in keeping these changes to a minimum.
When Teeth Shifting After Braces Becomes a Concern
Although it is normal to experience some natural settling of your teeth once your treatment is complete, significant changes or shifting front teeth are cause for concern. If you believe this is happening, you should notify our office immediately.
Typically, if we notice unwanted shifting, a simple retainer tweak can solve the issue. If the shifting has occurred for a while, the solution may become more complicated. For instance, certain patients may need to wear a clear aligner every day for several months. More severe cases may require a second, shorter round of braces. If a patient has ignored the issue for years, treatment may need to be completely restarted.
Wearing Retainers Following Braces
While the natural settling process may still cause you to notice a slight degree of tooth shifting even if you wear your retainer, using a retainer is the best way to keep shifting to a minimum and preserve your bite. Because the majority of settling occurs immediately after treatment is completed, patients are usually recommended to wear their retainer on a full-time basis for the first few post-treatment months. Once we evaluate your teeth and approve their placement, you may be able to wear the retainer only at night. Almost all patients will need to use their retainer for their entire life. Typically, wearing the retainer a few nights each week is enough to prevent teeth from reverting to their original position. Failing to consistently wear your retainer can lead to complications in the future.
The sooner you tackle the issue of shifting teeth once your braces are removed, the sooner it can be controlled. If you are worried that your teeth are shifting beyond the natural settling process, consider contacting our practice immediately. Even if you weren’t entirely committed to wearing your retainer consistently, it is never too late to get back on track.