Dentist Questions Teeth, And Gum Care

I wear my retainer, so why are my teeth still shifting?

After having braces on for three years, I was given a retainer to wear at night. I wear it every night, but I'm still noticing that my teeth are moving. What can I do?

27 Answers

Perhaps going from full-time active braces to retention only at night time was too abrupt. After active movement of teeth, the teeth are still mobile and will have a tendency to relapse to their earlier position. Therefore, the retention period is not only to hold them where you want them, but also to signal to the bones to firm up their position. Wearing them only at night right after finishing braces may allow them to shift in the daytime. Also, perhaps the type of retainer allows for some movement and you may not be ready for it yet until they have firmed up. Consult with your doctor.
There may be several reasons, if your retainer is worn-down and too loose. This may allow for some teeth shifting, certain conditions such as breathing through your mouth may also result in changes. Certain individuals have atypical tongue movements that will cause changes as well

You can wear it more. Like during the day too.
Are you wearing upper and lower retainers? Do you have a fixed wire
retainer behind your lower front teeth? What type of retainer do you
wear? These are answers I would need to help guide you to a correct answer.

Dr. Dan Hogan
Go back to the orthodontist who did the treatment. Contrary to popular belief, retainers don't last forever. They need to be replaced every couple years. Maybe ask about other types of retainers, the same retainer isn't right for every person.

Justin W. Ruffner, DDS
Outer Cape Dental Group
Office (508)349-6300
Cell (508)742-8659
Shifting  and what we call relapse or teeth trying to return toward their original position is common in orthodontic treatment( braces). Most often if worn for night only, retainers can retain teeth in there new positions after wearing the retainers for almost 24 hours per day for an initial length of time. Some cases are more prone to relapse however. In those cases if undesired shifting is noticed the best course of action would be to return to the original dentist or orthodontiist who did the treatment for a follow up visit to discuss the concern. Alternately seeing another orthodontist or dentist who treats orthodontic cases would be acceptable if the original clinician is unavailable. Dr. Grimm 
There is no easy solution for rebounding, which is what you are experiencing. Could be related to the skeletal position of your teeth and the original treatment plan for braces. My best advice is to return to an orthodontist for a consultation.

Raymond L Wright III DDS MS
You need to wear a fixed retainer, which is called lingual bar. I advise
you to see your orthodontist asap.
Your question begs for more information regarding the outcome of your orthodontic treatment. Depending on how difficult your case was whether or not it involved extractions for your braces your age or whether or not surgery was involved in moving your jaw structure depends on the correct reasoning for why your teeth may still be shifting. One of the most likely causes for relapse which is Shifting of the teeth back towards the original malocclusion would be non-compliance in the amount of time you're supposed to be wearing the retainer. Many patients think that once they're out of braces the retainers are just an afterthought and not important. This is not true as retention is the most important portion of orthodontic success. This is also the time when control is in the patient's hand and not in the hands of the orthodontist so there is likely to be some difference in compliance. Make sure that you're doing exactly as you were instructed and with that in mind let's talk about the kind of retainer that you have. There are many different kinds fixed Invisalign and fixed plastic as well as bonded known as permanent retainers. You did not mention which kind you have but I'll address all three. It is possible if you have a clear plastic retainer it warms in the mouth to body temperature and has no rigidity to help hold the teeth an alignment. It is also Limited in the amount of adjustment the orthodontist can make to increase the pressure but it is also the cheapest to make. Many patients like the fact that it's clear but this is secondary to the effectiveness of a correctly made retainer. Bonded retainers are fixed to usually the six Central Front Teeth and are only as strong as the weakest Bond. That is to say if 1 Bond breaks on one tooth this tooth will have lost its attachment and subject to migrate. For this reason I do not like neither of the first two types of retainer. The best retainer is a plastic and wire retainer sometimes called a Hawley retainer and is adjustable can be made in multitude of colors and is the most expensive but most effective means of controlling the teeth. If your orthodontist used either of the former two types of retainer they are less effective than the latter one. Bear in mind that full compliance is necessary and routine adjustments for any teeth that don't conform to Ideal by your orthodontist is most important so keep your regular check-ups for your retainer. Ages of factored in the some patients get their braces removed by the time they are 12 or so and are not through physically growing nor have wisdom teeth been extracted so there is still some margin for shifting that needs to be addressed by routine check-ups even for your retainers. These check-ups will be more spread out than your routine orthodontic visits. It is also possible that in finishing your case total ideal was not achieved in which case less-than-ideal results would be expected. As I indicated from the beginning this is a multifaceted question which the specific answer would depend on your own specific situation.
go back to full time wear and call your dentist for an appointment
It could be that your retainer has a broken wire or it has warped.
The proper maintenance after orthodontics would have been to wear the retainer all day everyday for the first year, then wear them only at night. You need to go back to your orthodontist.
Francis C Mecadon DMD

It s probably time for new retainers. Plastic retainers do deform after a while. I d have them make multiples while they r doing it. You ll need tgem and itcan save $ too.
Retainers should be holding your teeth by now - if they are not ; you may need to upgrade to a stronger set / have yourgums checked for periodontal issues or if you ckench or grind yourteeth during the day : all yhes factors could be affecting the lack of stability of your teeth.please try and see a good dentist that is knowledgeable about orthodontics - tmj and periodontal disease .
How many hours per day do you actually wear the retainer.? Perhaps increasing your hours of wear will correct your problem . Does your retainer fit loosely ? Or is part of the retainer broken? A loose or broken retainer may not hold the teeth effectively . Your orthodontist can easily tighten or repair most types of retainers .
Your teeth will still move or shift for a variety of reasons, the main being if your bite (the way the teeth fit together doesn't match the way the jaw joint needs to seat, the teeth will shift to try to accommodate the jaw joint. A good example would be -if your lower back hurt and I noticed that you had a flip flop shoe on one foot and a high heel on the other, the first thing I would do is take your shoes off. There is an unbalance there similar to having an unbalance in the teeth/jaw complex.

Dr J. Ladd Williams
Need to see your Orthodontist
It sounds like the retainer is not working properly. Identifying the type of movement occurring will help in deciding the best type of retainer or design to stop that movement. If the retainer is a clear plastic retainer, the retainer will naturally distort over time. If is a traditional hawley retainer, maybe it can be adjusted or have accessories added to control the movment. You should see the dentist or orthodontist who delivered the retainer to see what they can do.

Also depending on how much movement has occurred, you may have to do some minor orthodontic movement with something like Invisalign. See the link below if you would like more information about clear aligner therapy.
Once you get your braces off, it is very important to continue to wear your retainer. If you stop wearing your retainer, your teeth absolutely will start to move. Also, as you continue to wear your retainer, it will get looser and not fit the teeth as tightly as it originally did. This will also allow your teeth to move. To avoid any tooth movement from a loose retainer, you need to replace your retainer (if it is a plastic retainer) or have it tightened (if it is a wire retainer).
If your retainers are fitting properly and you are
wearing them like you are supposed to ... then
You should probably go back to your Orthodontist.
You need to wear the retainers for the rest of your
Life to prevent shifting too.
A retainer can't fit if the teeth have shifted... It should not be flexible. If worn daily, the teeth cannot move.... If the teeth have moved in some way, then the retainer would not fit.
To prevent the problem from continuing, immediately see the orthodontist who treated you and made the retainers.
If you are wearing your orthodontic retainer nightly as recommended by your orthodontist and your teeth are still shifting. I recommend you see your orthodontist. You may need an adjustment to your retainer or maybe even a new one.
I would suggest that you go back to your orthodontist and have him/her see whats happening. The retainer should prevent your teeth from shifting.

Michael M. Blicher, D.D.S.
I do not specialize in orthodontics, however I will try to answer. You may need to be wearing your retainer for more hours each day. You should have it checked to make sure it is fitting properly and is tight enough to prevent movement. Teeth will try to move back to the original positions after the braces come off, so an accurate fitting retainer is important. Hope that helps.

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depending on the type of retainer sometimes movement of teeth are stronger than the retainer. One of the options would be fixed retainer. They are a lot more stronger.
If you had a long braces case and your teeth had to have a lot of movement to get to the straight position that it is now, it is very important to make sure that you wear your retainer every night and also to have multiple clear retainers made from the mold of your teeth when you were finished with your braces. That way, if there is plastic fatigue...meaning if you wear it every night, and the teeth are more prone to move in the first year after you are done with braces, you can wear a new retainer every 3 months. It is also advisable that you wear your retainer full-time first 3 months, then proceed to 1/2 day next 3-6 months and then every night for as long as you would like to keep your teeth straight.