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What if I Don’t Wear My Retainer?

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At Align Orthodontics, we want your investment in orthodontic care to last. That’s why orthodontics retainers are so important.

One of the things that patients ask us all the time is, “what happens if I don’t wear my retainer?” Some of our patients are a little forgetful. Others are conscientious and just want to know what will happen if they take out their retainer for ten minutes. The rest are maybe rebels. The boundary pushers who also want to know how far they can drive a car with the fuel gauge on E. Tempting the fates and thumbing your fingers at the Orthodontic Gods. We wish you all the best in your rebellious endeavors 😂.

What Happens If I Don't Wear My Retainer?

But let’s take just a second and talk through what actually happens if you choose to not wear your orthodontic retainers.

There are things that happen. Things we like to call consequences. Treatment with braces is specific and tailored to your unique set of variables like the positions of your teeth both where they are and which way they are turned. The brackets and wires (or the clear aligner trays if you’re using Invisalign) slowly move your teeth into a new position. Once they are there an odd thing happens. The teeth want to go back to the position we found them in. To prevent all that work from going down the drain, we ask you to wear a retainer. It does just that: it retains the position we moved them into. So, wearing a retainer is an important part of your on-going care of your teeth.

If you stop wearing your retainers:

The bottom line is that if you don’t wear your retainers, your investment in orthodontic care will likely be lost.  Over time your teeth are going to start to move back to their original locations, or close to it. It starts quickly, though. The first week after your braces come off is a crucial time. Your teeth will begin to shift and rotate back to their original positions. It’s slow, slight, and gradual, but that’s why we provide the retainer: to keep that from happening. The first week, though, is really important.

One month without an Orthodontic Retainer:

You’re likely going to notice some of your teeth shifting, but not a ton, after one month.  Your retainer will likely stop fitting after a whole month - which means you’d likely end up back in our office if you go the whole month without wearing your retainer. 

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “I’ll just slam my retainers on for a few days and get those teeth back to where they were! After that, I can just wear my retainers whenever I want.” The problem with this kind of thinking is that braces and orthodontic care work by applying consistent, constant pressure on your teeth. If you’ve gone a whole month without a retainer, you’ll likely need to come back in and let us make a new one. Forcing a retainer can cause more trouble than getting fitted for a new one.

One year without an Orthodontic Retainer:

If you’ve gone a whole year without wearing a retainer, well, we’ve got some bad news for you. You’ll need to come in and let us look at the situation and there’s a possibility that, if you want to have the smile you wanted to start with, you’ll have to go back into braces for a bit. A retainer itself cannot do the work necessary to correct the shifts and rotations that come with a year of no retainer.

So, let’s wear that Orthodontic Retainer!

If a person isn’t wearing their retainer, it’s not because they’re trying to undo all that work. We get it. Life is busy and it’s moving by pretty fast. So, here’s a couple of ideas to help you remember to wear your retainer on a daily basis:

  • Bake it into your schedule. Just like you brush your teeth first thing in the morning, add the step of popping in the retainer once you’ve finished brushing and flossing (hint, hint). 
  • Use your phone reminders. Every smartphone has a clock that a lot of people use for alarms. Open up that app and create a handful of alarms for random times during the week. After a couple of weeks of doing this, we bet you’ll be able to delete them because you’ll remember to wear that retainer.
  • Write reminders on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. This is another type of reminder and one that has been effective for a lot of people. You’ll see it every day, that’s for sure!

If you’re having trouble with your teeth or retainer, come on in and see us. No judgment. We just want to help you get back on track and see you smile again.

Contact Align Orthodontics in Grand Rapids To Learn More

If you’d like to learn more about the incredible things Invisalign can do for you and your smile, get in touch with us today to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Larry Majznerski, West Michigan’s first Invisalign Elite Preferred Provider! We can help you achieve the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve.

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