My teeth are straight! Now what?
Congratulations! If you recently had your brackets removed or completed your orthodontic treatment with your last set of Invisalign® retainers, it’s time to enjoy your new smile. However, it’s important to remember that your teeth have not been permanently repositioned. Your braces or Invisalign retainers simply guided your teeth into place. Your orthodontist needs your help making sure your teeth stay straight after braces or Invisalign. How you care for your teeth once braces or Invisalign treatment is over will determine whether they shift back or remain sparkling and straight.
Why teeth shift after braces
It is impossible for humans to be completely still. We are always moving, even if those movements are imperceptible to the eye. The movement of your teeth is no different. After braces are removed or Invisalign treatment is complete, your teeth will try to shift back to where they were before braces treatment—this is natural and normal, and a minor shift here or there may not be noticeable. However, to protect your investment in orthodontics and in your dental health, you want to avoid major shifts in your smile post-braces.
There are certain dental issues that can make your mouth more susceptible to movement. Be on the lookout for the following dental issues after braces or Invisalign.
Common issues after braces that make teeth shift
Teeth grinding, which is often a result of stress, can cause gum tissue to recede. When this happens, teeth are less secure and more likely to shift. Keep your teeth healthy and protected by wearing a mouthguard if you grind. If you lose teeth after treatment, be careful—teeth tend to shift toward openings. Gaining teeth, like wisdom teeth, can also pose problems to your hard-earned smile as your mouth may get too crowded with the new additions.
How to protect your smile after treatment
“Orthodontics” encompasses your preparation for braces or Invisalign, your active treatment wearing braces or Invisalign, and your care once treatment is over. This last phase of your treatment is called retention, and this is when you and your orthodontist work to limit the shifting of teeth so that they remain straight once your braces are off. When teeth shift to their previous position, this is called relapse—your goal during retention is to avoid it!
Wear your retainers
Braces and Invisalign move your teeth with gentle pressure. During your treatment, these appliances keep teeth in place, but once this pressure is gone, teeth will want to return to where they were previously. Your retainers are your safeguards against relapse—the best way to protect your smile following braces is to be extremely diligent about wearing your retainers. Immediately following braces or Invisalign, you will need to wear a retainer almost all the time, but this time will gradually lessen. Everyone is different, but for some patients, retainer wear will ultimately be limited to night times only. Others may need to wear them more frequently or opt for fixed wire retainers, which stay on your teeth permanently or for several years.
Maintain good dental hygiene
Proper dental hygiene is always important, and your orthodontist probably discussed it with you frequently while you were in braces. Once braces are off, it’s vital to continue to be consistent and committed to brushing and flossing at least twice a day. Gum disease, gum recession, and tooth or enamel decay make teeth much more susceptible to movement after you get your braces removed. And just like braces, retainers need maintenance—you’ll also need to clean your retainer to get the most use out of it before it’s time for a replacement.
Visit your dentist and orthodontist
Dentistry and orthodontics are closely related. If you want to avoid braces relapse, make sure to maintain regular appointments and cleanings with your dentist and keep up with any necessary appointments with your orthodontist. If we notice a shift in tooth position or dental health, we’ll be able to address the issue right away.
Quick facts about your retainer
Once the braces process is over, you will be fitted for a retainer. This is usually done by taking an impression of your mouth. Your retainer will be custom-made for your unique smile. There are many different types of retainers and your orthodontist will determine which is best for you once braces treatment is over. Once you have been fitted for and receive a retainer, it’s up to you to wear it as often as you are directed to do so. With correct, regular wear, your retainer will be quite comfortable, but if you lapse in wearing it, you’ll start to notice some pressure.
What happens if my teeth shift back?
Without proper care after treatment with braces or Invisalign, your teeth will move—that’s a fact. If they move drastically, you may need to undergo braces treatment again, which can be costly, time-consuming, and a bit disheartening if you already had braces before.
When to contact your orthodontist
If you start to notice any changes in your teeth, pain, or discomfort, it’s time to contact your doctor. And if you lose or break a retainer, call us right away. We know life happens—it’s important to replace retainers as soon as possible to avoid relapse.
Hutta & Price Orthodontics is here to help
At Hutta & Price Orthodontics, we are committed to helping our patients through every step of treatment, and braces or Invisalign aftercare is an important part of every patient’s journey. In addition to our award-winning services, we also offer a Retainer Guarantee program aimed at helping to ease the cost of retainer replacements, which can be expensive and unavoidable. To learn more about our Retainer Guarantee program, in addition to our services for children, teens, and adults, visit our treatment page.
If you need to get motivated about keeping your smile straight following braces, look in the mirror—your teeth look great. Let’s keep them that way!