Does any of this sound familiar? Your braces come off or you use your last aligner, and you’re sent on your way with a new retainer from your orthodontist. You have every intention of wearing it exactly as directed, and in the beginning, you do. But over time, it becomes easier and easier to fall asleep without popping it in before bed. Before you know it, you can’t even remember the last time you wore it. Or worse, you don’t even remember where it is!
You decide to call the orthodontist about replacing it, but that keeps getting pushed to the bottom of your to-do list somehow. And then one day, you notice your mouth feels a little strange, or you see something is off with your smile when you see it in the mirror or a picture. That’s when it hits you…your teeth have shifted and your smile is no longer as straight as it once was.
If this sounds like you, you’re certainly not alone! Here at Champlain Orthodontics, we are able to help many adult patients who are in need of touch-up treatment for orthodontic relapses. To learn more about what causes these relapses to occur and what we can do about it, keep reading below.
What can cause a relapse?
Not using your retainer as directed is the most common reason for an orthodontic relapse, although it isn’t always to blame. There can be other reasons for this occurring, including:
Genetics and natural aging – It’s not unusual for our teeth to begin naturally shifting as we grow older. The front teeth are especially susceptible to shifting under pressure because the enamel begins to wear thin as we age.
Teeth grinding – Chronic grinding of the teeth can alter your bite and place a strain on the teeth. The resulting tension can sometimes cause them to become misaligned over time.
Tooth loss – If one or more teeth are lost due to decay or periodontal disease, the surrounding teeth may begin drifting towards that empty space. If this is left untreated, it can eventually lead to a misaligned bite.
The importance of retainers
To understand why retainers are such an essential part of long-term orthodontic success, it helps to know more about the straightening process. Your teeth aren’t the only things we want to stay in place once the initial phase of treatment is complete; we need the gums and bones in your mouth to align to these new positions, too. However, those soft and hard tissues can sometimes take a little longer to align. Wearing a retainer regularly helps the gums and bones align and further stabilizes your bite.
Sound confusing? Put more simply, each tooth is held in its socket by elastic ligaments that attach the roots to the bone. These ligaments are living tissue that are affected by the movement of the teeth. It’s this attachment that allows for the small movements the teeth make throughout treatment. An orthodontic appliance like braces or aligners introduce tension in and around the teeth, resulting in new ligaments and sometimes bone being formed.
The first phase of treatment, when you wear braces or aligners, is called the remodeling phase. Once this is complete, the tissues, ligaments, and bone will need time to stabilize. A retainer helps to hold these new positions as they stabilize. Without that continued tension, the teeth will almost always migrate back to their old positions.
How Champlain Orthodontics can treat an orthodontic relapse
It can be upsetting, but if you’ve suffered a relapse for any reason, we’re here to help! If you’ve been wearing your retainer as directed and only minor shifting is present, we may be able to leave things as they are simply monitor your teeth for any further shifting. Some minor movement can also be corrected by having new retainers made.
If the relapse is significant, however, we may recommend re-treatment rather than just touch-up treatment for orthodontic relapses. This could include using traditional metal braces or Invisalign aligners, but fortunately, correcting a relapse often takes much less time than your original treatment. Champlain Orthodontics is proud to offer the following options to patients looking to straighten their smile again (and improve their oral health, too!)
Pitts 21™️ self-ligating braces
The Pitts 21™️ system features self-ligating braces that eliminate the need for metal or elastic ties. Instead, it uses specialized clips and slide mechanisms to hold your wires in place. This results in tooth movement that is often faster and more effective than other methods! The revolutionary square wire finishing also offers patients significantly lighter forces, greater control, and enhanced comfort during treatment. Pitts 21™️ braces require fewer total wires to complete your treatment, and it’s the only system of its kind to provide 3D control throughout the orthodontic process.
Ceramic braces offer the same strength and reliability of traditional metal braces, but come with semi-translucent or tooth-colored ceramic brackets to blend in well with your natural smile. They can be an excellent option for patients looking for a more subtle way to straighten their smile! The brackets are about the same size and shape as metal braces, but much less noticeable, and when they are paired with clear, white, or tooth-colored wires and elastic ties, they’re incredibly discreet.
Invisalign clear aligner system
Invisalign uses a series of custom-made aligners to gradually straighten your teeth. These trays are completely clear, smooth, and removable. This allows patients an extra measure of freedom and flexibility braces just can’t match. There is no irritation from wires or brackets, no food restrictions, and the aligners are removed to eat, drink, and maintain your regular dental hygiene routine. The Invisalign system works particularly well for mild and moderate orthodontic issues, like those often experienced with relapses.
Get your smile back where it belongs with Champlain Orthodontics
Whatever has caused your relapse, our talented team is here to get your smile back on track! We have years of experience in providing beautiful smiles to patients of all ages in Williston, St. Albans, and the surrounding communities.
Choosing touch-up treatment for orthodontic relapses will give you a smile you can be proud of once again. It will also help ensure better oral health, since even minor misalignments can make cleaning your teeth more difficult. Get in touch with us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards reclaiming your smile!