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What Happens When You Don’t Wear Your Retainer?

Your retainer plays an important role in keeping your teeth looking good after your braces come off. Now that you are free from wires and brackets, you may feel tempted to not wear your retainer. However, if you do this, you’ll be reversing all the progress you made while wearing braces.

It’s a common misconception that your orthodontic journey ends after your braces are removed. In reality, retainers are a part of this critical phase of tooth correction post-braces. To stress the importance of your this device, let’s discuss what happens when you don’t wear your retainer.

Why do you need a retainer?

Firstly, before we dive into what happens when you neglect to wear a retainer, let’s talk about what it does. Retainers are removable orthodontic pieces that hold your teeth in place after your braces are removed.

Retainers come in a variety of forms and can last for a long time when properly cared for. Some retainers look clear like Invisalign braces, while others are made of wires and plastic. Your orthodontist will make one exactly to the mold of your teeth and mouth so that the retainer can be as effective as possible.

After your braces come off, your teeth will start shifting toward their original positions. The retainer’s purpose is to hold your teeth in place to keep the beautifying effects of your braces for life.

Why do your teeth move?

Your teeth are most likely to make dramatic shifts during the first year after your braces. When your braces come off, your teeth and gums will be the most “flexible.” They are suddenly without wires and brackets to hold them in a certain position.

In addition, the natural process of aging causes your teeth to shift, so over time, your teeth are inevitably bound to move around. Unless external pressure is placed on them, they will continue to move according to their natural tendencies. Retainers are the tools that apply this pressure to keep your teeth in line.

Ultimately, if you don’t follow your dentist’s orders, your teeth will shift back to their original positions. Without a force opposing your teeth’s natural tendencies, nature will eventually win.

How long should you wear a retainer?

Your orthodontist will give you specific instructions based on the condition of your teeth. Usually, patients should wear their retainers more frequently right after the braces come off. The typical doctor’s orders are to wear the retainer daily for 6 months to a year, then for the following year to wear the retainer nightly.

Then, to prevent teeth from shifting for the rest of your life, wear the retainer one to two nights per week. Over time, you’ll need to get replacements for your retainer to keep its holding power strong. As you can see, the most delicate time for your teeth is right after the braces are removed. The risks of movement are higher because your teeth are not completely settled and conditions are more malleable.

How often should you replace your retainer?

There are different types of retainers that vary in quality and holding power. For teeth that had just minor imperfections, the clear retainers that look like Invisalign are more than enough to keep things in shape. These are not as durable, however, and should be replaced within a few years if they are well cared for.

If you had a more severe orthodontic condition like a massive overbite and overcrowding, you’ll need a stronger kind of retainer made with wires. These can last for a decade with proper care. To extend their life, clean them daily with mouthwash and store them securely so that they won’t get damaged. They should also be kept away from extreme temperatures.

Whenever you notice your retainer losing its effectiveness or shape, you should contact your orthodontist immediately to get a new one made for you. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to keep your teeth in a good position.

What happens when you don’t wear your retainer?

Ultimately, if you don’t wear your retainer, your beautifully aligned teeth will go back to the way they were. This means that all the work accomplished by your braces will be reversed and you’ll need to wear braces again to get your teeth back to the way they were.

Make an appointment today.

If you have any questions about wearing a retainer or anything else related to dental care, then contact us. We can tell you everything you need to know about life with a retainer. If you need a replacement retainer, our dental professionals can help you with that as well, even if you had your braces elsewhere.


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