Oops, had braces, ditched retainer and now my teeth have moved… please help!


Hands up who had braces as a teenager, only to forget to wear those retainers at night that were handed to you as you sashayed out the surgery doors of your orthodontist wearing your straight new smile?

Yup, it’s a common enough scenario – but fear not, help is at hand.

Relapse, as it is commonly known, is a common occurrence and the earlier you report it to your orthodontist the better.

For some of us, the way our teeth develop is very much part of us – and can be dictated by our genetics – which means that if our teeth are crooked or if we have an overbite or underbite, we most probably have our parents to thank.

If that’s the case, our teeth can take some serious coaxing to fall into line.

We may also need teeth straightening because of a thumb-sucking habit, an incident that knocked our teeth out of alignment or some other oral health complication.

And, should we have these alignment issue addressed and corrected, sometimes they can fail miserable, gaps can appear and our smile can be ruined by crooked teeth once again.

If that is the case, the key to correction lies in the speed at which you book an appointment to see your orthodontist.

Like other parts of our body, our mouths change over time and teeth can move – hence the need for a retainer to keep them in the straight line into which they’ve been engineered.

However, slight movement of teeth is likely, whatever retainer we are wearing – which means that many of simply ditch the retainer because it no longer fits. And the supporting tissues – gums and bone – also shift. Out mouths crowd as we age, too, so what solutions are open to us?

Well, we can have new retainers fitted to stabilise the relapse – ask your dentist if you are suitable for a re-fitting – or, we may wish to consider re-treatment if we’ve left it too long – and vow to wear those retainers as we were asked to do way back when!

If you opt for re-treatment, it’s heart-warming to know that the options for aligners are varied and plentiful – some are more discreet than others, some address only the front teeth that show when you smile and the clear removable type means it can be taken out when you eat or when you have an important engagement, for example.

Most of the options for adult orthodontics meet the need for those of us who don’t necessarily want others to know we’re having this cosmetic dental treatment.

Some systems use fixed clear orthodontic brackets and tooth-coloured nickel-titanium, whilst others – lingual braces – fix to the inside of the teeth so hidden from view.

You can find a comprehensive list of the type of braces on offer here and your orthodontist will happily discuss options and what best suits you and your needs in order to get back that lovely straight smile you once had.
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