Haven’t Worn Your Retainer for a Long Time? Here’s What To Do

Wearing a retainer will be a part of the process for every patient after they’ve worked with their Melbourne orthodontist to straighten their teeth with braces. If you forget to wear your it for too long, it can make all that hard work go to waste. If you forget to wear your retainer for a while, or if you lose your retainer, you will want to call Reddick Orthodontics right away. Here’s what to do if you have not worn your retainer for a long time.

The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer

Once your course of treatment with braces has been completed, you will be instructed by your orthodontist in Melbourne to wear it at night. This process can last from a few months to several years, depending on how much your teeth were shifted during treatment. The purpose of the retainer is to keep your teeth in their new position. Without the retainer, your teeth will naturally want to start shifting back to their original positions. Your teeth will be most vulnerable to shifting for the first few weeks after your braces come off. It is especially important to follow the instructions of your orthodontist during this period.

Our teeth also naturally shift inwards as we get older. If you have received treatment with braces, this is more likely to happen. 

What Happens If You Don’t Wear Your Retainer

Research in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics shows that more than 80 percent of patients follow their doctor’s instructions when it comes to wearing their retainer (meaning that one out of every five patients does not.). The longer a patient goes without wearing their it, the greater the risk of their teeth shifting back to their original position and undoing the hard work that they put into wearing braces.

Here are some guidelines when it comes to the length of time that patients fail to wear their retainer:

  • One Week: Minor shifts in the teeth can occur, including rotations and spaces between teeth.
  • One Month: Corrections to the patient’s bite can start to happen. An underbite, overbite, or crossbite can start to reoccur.
  • One Year or More: The teeth can become crooked again, and the patient will require more orthodontic treatment to correct their smile.

Don’t Try to Wear Your Old One Again

Patients who stop wearing their retainers do so for a variety of reasons. They might have lost their retainer and thought there was no point in getting another one. Retainers are made from soft material that can be warped or broken, so they stopped wearing it. Some people simply give up on the process. Whatever the reason might be, if you have stopped wearing your retainer for an extended period, you shouldn’t try to simply fit it to your teeth again. 

If your teeth have shifted, you can harm your teeth or gums by trying to jam your old retainer into your mouth. If the retainer does not fit easily and comfortably over your teeth, you have waited too long, and it’s time to get a new one.

What to Do if It’s Been a Long Time

If it has been a long time since you wore your retainer, you should give your Melbourne orthodontist a call and schedule a new appointment. If it has been several weeks or a month, it may be just a simple matter of crafting a new retainer for you. If that’s the case, you can start wearing the retainer again and everything goes back to normal. If your teeth have started to shift, Dr. Reddick may recommend a short length of treatment with Invisalign to straighten them. Once they’ve been re-straightened, you can go back to wearing the retainer as instructed. In serious cases where the teeth have shifted out of place, it may require a new round of orthodontic treatment with braces to correct your smile. 

If you have lost your retainer, or you’ve forgotten to wear it for a while, contact us at Reddick Orthodontics in Melbourne to schedule an appointment right away.