You may have a beautiful and healthy smile for the rest of your life by having your teeth straightened with orthodontic treatment such as braces or Invisalign. That is, so long as you follow the instructions that came with your retainer and wear it consistently.
It is possible that your teeth are not as straight as they once were because you weren’t consistent about wearing this rather minor but crucial orthodontic appliance? Is it possible to use your old retainer to realign your teeth? The answer is not straightforward, and selecting the incorrect one could seriously compromise the health of your teeth. Continue reading as we discuss whether or not your old retainer can still work after not wearing them for years.
How Retainers Work?
When the force exerted on your teeth by braces or aligners is removed, they may be more likely to move in response to the pull of your ligaments. This signifies that they will be returning to their previous positions. Because the procedure is slow, you might not see any difference in yourself when you look in the mirror. However, this process of returning teeth to their previous positions occurs on a daily basis.
In most instances, dental professionals advise their patients that in the months following dental treatment, they should wear their retainers for a portion of each day. After that, it is recommended that patients continue to use their retainers during the night for the remainder of their lives.
Your retainers will keep your teeth from moving around when they are in your mouth. If you continue to wear them immediately after treatment and maintain a consistent schedule, your teeth will continue to be supported in their new positions. If you wear your equipment while you sleep for the rest of your life, any minute shifts in position that occur throughout the day will be corrected while you are asleep.
Read More: How Teeth Retainers Work
Can You Wear an Old Retainer?
You can usually continue to use your retainer as long as it has not been broken and still fits into your mouth, even if it is a little bit uncomfortable. This indicates that the retainer is still doing its job and that your teeth have not shifted to the point where it is no longer necessary.
After you have reinserted the retainer, it is likely that it will feel uncomfortable for a few days, but this is because your teeth will move ever-so-slightly to accommodate it. In most cases, the discomfort will subside after the first few nights of wearing it on a nightly basis.
If you have received an injury or trauma to the teeth, if your retainer is damaged, or if your teeth have moved too much for your retainer to fit back in, you should not attempt to wear the previous retainer.
If you haven’t been using your retainer as directed and have noticed that your teeth are moving out of place, there is a possibility that your old retainer can be used to correct the problem. However, depending on how worn out the retainer is, it may end up doing more harm than good if you continue to use it. How long you’ve been without your retainer is the most important factor to consider here:
A few days or a week
If you take off only a few days or a week from wearing your retainer, there is a good chance that it will continue to fit properly and be able to correct any slight alterations to your smile.
A few weeks or a month
Your retainer may no longer feel comfortable to wear after a length of time that is significantly longer, such as a few weeks or a month. Contact your orthodontist to find out if it is okay for you to continue wearing it.
A few months or years
Do not even bother putting an old retainer in your mouth if it has been several months or years since you last wore it. It is quite improbable that it will fit, and if it does, it might get caught, which would be painful and might even cause harm to your teeth and tissues. Make an appointment with your orthodontist instead, and remember to bring the retainer you’ve been using all this time. They might be able to make some adjustments to the retainer you already have, or they might determine that a new retainer is necessary.
You will eventually outgrow the requirement that you wear a retainer over the course of time, particularly once the permanent alignment of your teeth has been established. Over the years, there is a possibility that the alignment will shift again. It’s possible that you’ve found yourself seeking a means to straighten your smile once again. This could be the result of improper dental care habits, missing teeth, or wisdom teeth that have become impacted.
Why Teeth Shift After Braces
For braces to be effective, tension must be applied to the teeth using brackets and wires. This causes the teeth to be moved into a more aligned position. When that pressure is removed, such as when your braces are taken off, your gums and bone may seek to revert to the mismatched conditions.
Following the removal of your orthodontic braces, you will need to wear a retainer in order to preserve the new alignment of your teeth. It is required that a retainer be worn continuously for the period of time that has been determined. The period of time that you are required to wear your retainer will decrease if your gums and bone have suitably adjusted to support the new position of your teeth. Your teeth will shift back to their original position if you do not follow the regimen that your orthodontist gives you or if you wear your retainer on an as-needed basis.
When A New Retainer May Be Needed
Once your teeth have reached their final, desired positions, however, your orthodontic therapy is not finished. It will take some time for the supportive tissues in your gums and jaws to mend and fully cement the effects of the procedure.
Following treatment, it is recommended that you wear a retainer so that your teeth can be kept in their new places while the rest of your mouth heals. In many instances, you will need to wear a retainer for the rest of your life at least a few times per week in order to keep your teeth in their proper position. This is due to the fact that as you continue to develop and age, your mouth will continue to alter its form. Investing in a retainer after having your teeth straightened is the greatest way to make sure they stay in their newly-adjusted positions for the rest of your life.
Related: Orthodontic Retainer Replacement: Steps, Signs & Costs
When Your Teeth Are No Longer Straight
As a result of stopping wearing your retainer or not following your orthodontist’s instructions for how long to wear your retainer, you may have noticed your teeth shifting back to their misaligned position. Your smile may only require a brief period of time spent wearing braces in order to be realigned, and your orthodontist can help you through the process.
Read more: Can You Get Braces Again?
Consult with Kumra Orthodontics to learn more about wearing retainers after years
If you have found an old retainer and are wondering if it is still effective, we recommend consulting with Kumra Orthodontics to learn more about wearing retainers after years of not using them. Our team can help assess whether or not your teeth have shifted since you last wore the retainer and provide tips on how to wear it to achieve the best results properly. Don’t wait any longer – schedule a consultation today!