You spent a year or two in braces, you followed all of Dr. Sharma’s instructions, you were diligent about your oral hygiene and passing up the popcorn and the big day has finally arrived: Your braces are coming off! You’re now the proud owner of a brand new, gorgeous grin. Then, uh oh, you suddenly have a sinking sensation that your teeth are moving back after braces treatment. We get the occasional panicked calls at our Abbotsford and Surrey orthodontic clinics from patients who’ve finished a course of braces or Invisalign, have been wearing their retainer and still notice some tooth movement. If you’ve been experiencing this phenomenon, take a deep breath. In most instances, it’s completely normal!
Teeth Moving After Braces Come Off
While you had your braces on or while you were wearing your Invisalign, your teeth were held firmly in place. Whenever Dr. Sharma made adjustments or you popped in a new set of aligners, the teeth were forced to shift ever so slightly into their preferred spots thanks to the pressure from the appliances. Once your teeth are free and don’t have the same degree of constant pressure, there is a natural settling process that starts right after braces removal. The teeth will make their own miniscule movements and sometimes this can help make the bite even better!
Additionally, our bodies are constantly changing and evolving. Just like the skin loses collagen and elastin over time and lines and wrinkles form, the structures that hold the teeth in place experience the same gravitational and aging issues. Also, your tongue and normal wear from chewing play a role in tooth placement changes. That’s why having zero tooth movement after braces isn’t realistic. Orthodontic treatment tries to ensure the changes are as slight as possible and wearing a retainer will further help to maintain progress and keep settling to a minimum.
When Teeth Moving After Braces is a Concern
While the natural settling of the teeth after you get your braces off is normal, if your front teeth move or there are significant changes, it’s a concern. You should contact your orthodontist right away if you think this is happening. One potential fix is for Dr. Sharma to adjust your retainer to prevent shifting and keep teeth in their desired places. If the movement is in the front teeth and you’ve been wearing your retainer as prescribed, gluing a bonded retainer behind the teeth until they’re stable can work wonders. In certain cases, people have small teeth and a bonded retainer won’t fit. An option may be to let the teeth migrate into their final position and then have a dentist close the space with veneers or another means.
When our Abbotsford and Surrey Invisalign and braces patients give us a call soon after movement starts, simply tweaking the retainer is almost always the answer. If they wait a while and the movement goes on for some time, the solution could be more involved. For example, some patients might need to wear a clear aligner day and night for a few months or, in more severe cases, they could require another very short course of braces. For people who fail to wear a retainer and experience bigger movements for years, they could potentially need to start their braces or Invisalign treatment over again.
Retainers After Braces
Though you may notice some tooth movement after braces even when wearing a retainer because of the settling process we discussed, retainer use is the only way to keep it to a minimum and ensure your bite stays in place. Since most of this settling occurs as soon as treatment ends, we usually recommend that patients wear their retainer full-time for the first few months. Once they get the go ahead from Dr. Sharma, they can wear their retainer just at night for a while. The majority of patients will need to wear a retainer for the rest of their life, usually a few nights per week, to prevent their teeth from shifting back to how they were before braces. Failing to do this more often than not leads to the need to get braces or Invisalign a second time.
The sooner you address tooth movement after your braces come off, the sooner we can work on fixing it and the easier the solution will be. If you think it’s more than the natural settling process, give Dr. Sharma a call right away and we’ll get you back on track. If you were a little lax in wearing your retainer in the past, it’s never too late to restore your smile to its full potential. Contact Aura Orthodontics for a free consultation at our Surrey or Abbotsford orthodontic clinics and Dr. Sharma will help you decide on a treatment option to suit your needs.