Teeth can move your whole life whether you have had orthodontic treatment or not. The only way to prevent unwanted tooth movement is with regular retainer wear. We recommend full time wear for 3-6 months after orthodontic treatment, followed by long term wear every night. Several years after orthodontic treatment, some patients find that their teeth are very stable and can decrease the frequency of wear to a couple of nights a week or less. However, kind of like how some people can eat whatever they want and never gain weight, while others feel like they just look at food wrong and gain weight. Teeth seem to follow a similar pattern. Some people’s teeth are very stable and they could hardly ever wear a retainer to keep their teeth in a good position. While other people notice their teeth moving after just missing a night or two of retainer wear. The best way to avoid orthodontic retreatment is faithful retainer wear.
Life happens to all of us
Unfortunately, retainers are sometimes forgotten to be worn and teeth have shifted before being noticed. Luckily, if the teeth haven’t moved too far, full time wear with retainers for a while can help nudge the teeth back into the correct position. However, if the teeth have shifted too far, the retainer may not fit at all. When this happens, an orthodontic evaluation can help determine what is the next step (always bring your existing retainer with you for the consultation). Based on the amount of orthodontic relapse that has occurred, limited or comprehensive retreatment may be recommended. If relapse is mild to moderate, retreatment may include braces on anterior teeth for a short period of time, or Invisalign. If relapse is moderate to severe, comprehensive retreatment may be recommended which may include complete invisalign or braces with elastics or rubber bands.