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Retainers help keep teeth in their new position while the bone regrows after orthodontic treatment. People often wear retainers after wearing braces or undergoing jaw surgery.
Even after bones that stabilize teeth regrow, they continue to break down and rebuild over time. Teeth continuously change position due to forces from everyday activities, such as chewing.
Most orthodontists require people to wear their retainers nightly for them to work in preventing teeth from shifting. If you do not wear your retainers for a month, your teeth may shift back to their original position.
Although nothing can guarantee that teeth will stay in their new place, retainers are the best option for preventing or limiting tooth movement.
Some people have permanent retainers bonded (glued) to the inside of the upper and lower teeth to keep the teeth aligned. Others need to wear retainers only at night.
After braces, wearing retainers must become part of your nightly oral hygiene routine. Place them on your teeth after brushing and flossing.
Your teeth can shift even after a short period of not wearing a retainer.
After a week of not wearing a retainer, your teeth may:
After a month of not wearing a retainer, you may:
After a year of not wearing a retainer, your teeth may:
You’ll likely need a new retainer if you don’t wear it for a few months to a year.
If you find your retainer or decide to start wearing it again, try putting it on.
Talk to an orthodontist if the retainer feels uncomfortable, loose, too tight, or causes pain. Your teeth may have shifted too much for your retainer to work properly. An orthodontist can make you a new one.
If your teeth have shifted significantly, or if your retainer continues to feel too tight, you may need to undergo repositioning treatments. This might include wearing braces.
Contact your orthodontist if your retainer doesn’t fit or feels uncomfortable. The longer you wear a retainer that doesn’t fit, the more likely your teeth will shift.
Wearing a poorly fitted retainer can also cause:
Never try to fix an ill-fitting retainer at home. This can damage the retainer and may cause additional problems to your mouth and teeth.
Contact your orthodontist as soon as possible if you lose your retainer. Your orthodontist or dentist can often reorder a new retainer quickly.
Most orthodontists recommend people wear a retainer after finishing certain orthodontic treatments. This ensures the teeth stay in place and do not reposition back to their original position.
Most people wear their retainer every night. Depending on the orthodontist's recommendation, this may last several months, years, or even a lifetime.
After not wearing your retainer for a month or more, your teeth will shift back to their original position. This might result in redeveloped overbites, crossbites, or underbites.
If you lose your retainer or it does not fit properly, talk to your orthodontist about getting a replacement or adjusting it.
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