table of contents
- retention process
- Can an old retainer be used?
- teeth movement
- Do retainers help?
You've been wearing aligners or braces for months and you finally have the smile you've been waiting for. Your dentist gives you retainers to preserve the work you've done.
But as the months pass, he stops using the device. It's in a drawer, gathering dust. And meanwhile, your teeth start moving in ways you don't like.
Can you use an old retainer to straighten your teeth? As with most medical questions, the answer is, "It depends."
How do retainers work?
Retainers are placed when the teeth assume an optimal position and are designed to prevent the teeth from sliding back into their previous places.
Whether you wear braces or aligners, the process of moving your teeth is similar and involves:
- Pressure🇧🇷 The visible part of your teeth is pushed back by braces or plastic aligners.
- remodeling🇧🇷 The bone that supports the teeth wears down and rebuilds based on this pressure.
- Extension🇧🇷 The ligaments and soft tissues that support the teeth stretch and rebuild in response to movement.
When pressure from braces or aligners is removed, teeth may be tempted to respond to ligament pull. It means going back to your old places. The process is gradual and you may not see a change when you look in the mirror. But every day, teeth return to the places they once occupied.
In most cases, dental specialists tell their clients to wear their retainers for part of the day in the months following dental treatment. People are then invited to use their devices at night.for the rest of their lives.
Retainers hold the teeth in place so they don't shift. Use them immediately after treatment, throughout the day, and your teeth will continue to be supported in their new places. Wear your device at night for the rest of your life, and any small movement that happens during the day will be corrected while you sleep.
Retainers are not cheap and most cost between$200 and $500 per game🇧🇷 If you lose them during treatment, you will have to pay to have new versions made. And if you commituse them for the rest of your life, you will likely need at least one replacement set.
For people with moderate dental problems resulting from poor retainer adhesion, putting in old braces may be the perfect solution; however, if your teeth have shifted drastically, you may need more help than your old retainer can provide.
Can an old retainer be used?
If your retainer is undamaged and still fits in your mouth, even if it's a little tight, you can still use it. This means that your teeth have not moved so much that the retainer is no longer effective.
The retainer will likely be comfortable for a few days after being put back in, but your teeth will move slightly to accommodate this. After the first few nights of regular use, it will generally feel less uncomfortable.
When your teeth have moved too much for your retainer to be easily readjusted, if you have suffered an injury or trauma to your teeth, or if your retainer is damaged, you should not attempt to use your old retainer.
Also, if it's been more than 10 years since you've tried to wear your retainer, it's probably damaged or your teeth have moved too much to work. If you have to force it on your teeth, don't use it. It will cost less to get a new one than it will to repair the potential damage to your teeth if you try to force an old retainer that doesn't fit.
Dangers of using an old retainer
An old retainer can usually do more harm than good, especially if it's been years since you've tried to use it.
The following are the risks of using an old retainer:
- Damage to teeth:Forcing a retainer into place when your teeth have moved can chip, crack, or break your teeth.
- Damage to gum tissue:Pushing a retainer into your teeth when it doesn't fit properly can create pressure on your gum tissue. When you try to remove the retainer, it can even tear some gum tissue, causing bleeding and tenderness.
- stuck retainer:Forcing a retainer onto your teeth when it no longer fits can cause it to become stuck, requiring a dental appointment to remove it.
- Illness:Containers that have been in place for a long period of time can collect bacteria that will be put back in the mouth with the old retainer.
- Dor:Replacing an old retainer when your teeth have changed can be painful and damage your teeth and gums.
- Broken retainer:Plastic retainers become brittle over time and can break in the mouth, cutting or causing pain.
In general, if you haven't worn your retainer for several months or years, you'll need to talk to your orthodontist about getting a new one or restarting a treatment plan. Before trying to wear an old retainer, it might be a good idea to check with your orthodontist to see if it's safe to do so. They can adjust your retainer to make it fit again.
Keep in mind that if you need a new retainer, it will not realign your teeth; instead, it will simply keep your teeth where they are now. Retainers are designed to keep the teeth from moving. They are not made to actually move the teeth.
If you need to realign your teeth, you'll need a new treatment plan first.
Why do your teeth move after treatment?
Most dental specialiststhey tell their clients how to use retainers, and most of these doctors check their clients every three years to make sure they are following the instructions.
Wear your retainers correctly and your teeth should be fixed in their new positions with healthy bone and elastic ligaments. But many forces can displace teeth.
Your teeth may move due to:
- Decair🇧🇷 If a neighboring tooth has decayed and is extracted, the teeth can be moved to fill the space.
- wounds🇧🇷 A blow to the face can move the teeth forward or backward. Sometimes the teeth are completely knocked out.
- habits🇧🇷 Grinding your teeth can wear away the enamel and cause your teeth to curve in or out.
Ignoring the retainer can also cause the teeth to shift and approximately4% of orthodontic clientsnever use the devices they give you. Your teeth are very tempted to move right after treatment is over, and if you don't support them, all your work could be compromised.
Likewise, if you wore your retainer faithfully immediately after treatment but stopped wearing it over the months and years, your teeth could move in ways you didn't anticipate.
Can your retainer help?
Experts say the best way to keep your teeth straight for life is to keep wearing retainers. But if you haven't used the braces for a while, it might not help you get back the smile you've been looking for.
Ask yourself these questions before leaning on your old retainer to straighten your teeth:
- retainer is in good condition🇧🇷 Most retainers are made of plastic. If you've stored your trays in a hot, dry place, the materials may crack and warp. Broken retainers cannot help move teeth.
- Can you use the retainer without causing damage?🇧🇷 If you are at risk of chipping or breaking your teeth because the braces don't fit, don't wear them.
- Has your mouth changed since you stopped treatment?🇧🇷 Your retainer is a snapshot of your oral health at any given time. If your teeth have become dislodged due to an accident or injury that occurred after treatment, you will likely need a further evaluation and treatment plan.
Many people use old retainers because they are concerned about the cost of braces. This is reasonable, as devices can cost thousands of dollars and some insurance plans do not cover the cost.
Remember that aligners are an inexpensive alternative to braces. With a small investment of time and money, you can help your teeth position correctly in your mouth. And you'll be guided by a dentist rather than doing the work yourself, so you're less likely to endanger the health of your mouth.
How much do retainers cost?🇧🇷 Cost assistant.
A survey of protocols and trends in orthodontic retention🇧🇷 (October 2017).Advances in Orthodontics.
postoperative🇧🇷 American Association of Orthodontists.
Orthodontic researchers ask: where is your retainer?🇧🇷 (May 2011). daily science.
A protocol to help patients keep their teeth straight for life using orthodontic retainers.🇧🇷 (February 2018). Dental IC.
disclaimer: This article aims to promote understanding and knowledge about general oral health issues. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a medical condition or treatment.
Can I wear my old retainer to straighten my teeth? ›
In most cases, wearing an old retainer can realign your smile so long as your teeth have not shifted into an entirely new position. As a rule of thumb, wearing an old retainer should not be an issue so long as it still fits without needing to apply any force while inserting it over your teeth.Is it OK to use an old retainer? ›
A few months or years: Don't even attempt to wear an old retainer if it's been several months or years! It's very unlikely to fit, and it could become stuck, cause pain, and even potentially damage your teeth and tissues. Instead, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist and take your old retainer with you.Do I have to wear byte retainer forever? ›
Retainers keep your smile in place when active treatment is complete and adults need to wear their retainers for life, but adolescents may be able to stop wearing them after about 10 years.What happens if you force an old retainer? ›
If you force it into place, it could become stuck, damage your teeth, and cause problems for your roots and jaw. Instead, make an appointment with an orthodontist. They may be able to adjust your old retainer, or you may need to get a new one altogether.Can wearing a tight retainer damage your teeth? ›
In most cases, a tight retainer won't damage your teeth or gums. You may experience some discomfort during your first few days of retainer treatment. However, your discomfort will likely go away after a few days. If things don't improve, or your pain worsens, you should talk to your orthodontist about your concerns.How long should I wear my retainer to get my teeth straight again? ›
Retainers are meant to stop any dental relapse; you must wear them continuously for the first 3-6 months to ensure your teeth stay in the right position.Can I wear my retainer after 20 years? ›
"Adults should wear their removable retainer or retainers every night, whether three or 30+ years after orthodontic treatment, unless specifically told otherwise by their orthodontist," says Dr.What happens if I put my retainer in after not wearing it? ›
It might seem like a good idea to try to start wearing your old retainer again after not wearing it for a long time. However, this may actually damage your teeth. This is because your retainer was made for where your teeth were when you got your braces off.Can my teeth become straight again after wearing retainers again? ›
So can retainers move teeth back to their former position? The answer is no, and using an old retainer to correct shifted teeth is not a good idea. Retainers are not designed to shift your teeth, rather they are meant to hold them in place.What do I do if I haven't worn my retainer in months? ›
If you haven't worn your retainer for a long time, the best thing you can do is start using it as soon as possible! This will prevent your teeth from relapsing further. Ideally, your retainer should still fit even though your teeth have likely moved.