Dr. Greg Jorgensen
(505) 891-9440
1401 Barbara Loop SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124

The Jorgensen Orthodontics Blog

Help, I’m wearing my orthodontic retainer, but my teeth are moving!

Posted by Dr. Jorgensen on February 24th, 2011

iStock_000010219097XSmallThe most exciting day for an orthodontic patient is the day that their braces come off. Getting a smile that is as close to ideal as possible can be a long and involved process, and everyone, including the orthodontist, wants that smile to last the rest of the patient’s lifetime. But is that realistic?

Believe it or not, although the teeth may look great on the day the braces are removed, they will look better and be healthier a few months after the braces have come off. One reason for this is that the gum tissues, which suffer during treatment because brushing and flossing are so much more difficult, will actually get healthier after the braces are gone. A second reason is that with the wires and brackets off, the teeth can “settle” and come together more evenly and naturally. This settling is desirable on the side and back teeth, but not up front where these changes would be noticeable.

To keep the amount of movement up front to a minimum, all patients in our practice are given retainers the day their braces come off. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, there are many styles of orthodontic retainers, each with strengths and weaknesses. They all have one thing in common however. None of them can prevent all changes that occur as the mouth ages. Just as our eyesight, our hairline, and our figure changes with age, so do our teeth.

Changes in the alignment of your teeth will occur for a variety of reasons. First, if you are still growing, your genetic instructions (DNA) were not changed by our treatment and they still influence how you’ll “turn out.” Second, oral habits (where you rest your tongue or if you clench your teeth) will continue to put forces on the teeth that may cause them to move. And third, the normal wear that occurs when you use your teeth will require that your teeth adjust their positions so they can still come together. For these reasons you should expect that your teeth will continue to change after your braces come off.

So what is the take-home message? If you want to keep the natural changes that occur to a minimum, wear your retainers daily as prescribed for as long as you want your teeth to stay straight. You will need to accept some natural change, but there is no reason why your teeth can’t continue looking awesome for the rest of your life!

Dr. Greg Jorgensen is a board certified orthodontist providing braces and Invisalign to children, teenagers, and adults in Rio Rancho, New Mexico and the Albuquerque Westside.

442 comments so far in response to “Help, I’m wearing my orthodontic retainer, but my teeth are moving!”

  1. Ryan says:

    I havent wore my retainer in a while and my teeth are definatly shifting, how do i get them too move back

  2. Eliza says:

    Ugg somehow that got posted when I wasn’t ready and I can’t edit it :/. so I’ve had braces for almost 3 years for an overbite, with several different orthodontists due to moving. My last one said they were ready to come off after he found out we were moving, contradicting him saying they weren’t close to done the month before. (suspicious?) We decided to keep them on and get a second opinion after we moved. We moved and my first day to the new orthodontist said I was ready to get them off (at the time my bite felt even and comfortable) and the next week the molding was done for a retainer to be put on the next appointment, the same day I got the braces off. I also got them tightened (after the mold) using the same type of bands the old orthodontist used. I think what happened is my old orthodontist was still changing my bite, so when the new ortho put the same type of bands on, it over-corrected my bite. It does feel different then it did the day I got the mold. The gap between the overlap of the top teeth and bottom is wider on one side then the other. I wasn’t too concerned thinking that because the mold was taken when my teeth were still even, the retainer would re correct my bite to that form. I got the retainer today and have a hawleys. It is sore and hurting a lot. When I bite only one front tooth on the bottom hits the plastic of the top retainer, putting pressure on the top tooth just above it. No other teeth touch anything else. The assistant said it should feel like I’m biting something (it did, but all the bottom teeth were hitting it, unlike now) should I be concerned with the fit? Is the soreness due to the mold being different to my current bite, or would the retainer be sore anyways? Should I just wait it out and see what happens? Im also a little concerned the ortho didn’t check to see if they both fit as a bite smoothly, instead of just snapping them on and adjusting the hooks to not poke me. Could this also be a part of a possible problem, or does it not matter? I’m so so sorry this is so long, please email me if you need clarification or anything! (I did try to shorten this :/ I’m a bad writer)

    Thank you soooo much!!!

  3. If your teeth felt good when the impressions were taken, chances are that any over correction will relapse within the first month and then your bite should start feeling better. I would encourage you to wear your retainers as prescribed by your doctor and relax while things settle. You should see be seeing your orthodontist in four to six weeks so he can check your retainers and see how things are shaping up. Remember that perfection is not attainable in this lifetime and that you must accept some “wrinkles and sagging” everywhere, including your teeth.

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