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.

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

  1. Catherine says:

    Hello,
    I got my braces off the beginning of June. In September, I went to the orthodontist to fix my retainer because I feared that the way the retainer looked would shit my teeth. Later on, my teeth started to shift, so I went back to my orthodontist. They adjusted my retainer again, but my teeth just keep shifting. I went again yesterday, but my teeth just keep shifting and shifting. I had an open bite before getting braces. I have one specific tooth Im worried about and my canine tooth looks like it has shifted also. Should I go back to my orthodontist to get Invisalign or braces again? My teeth are straight, it’s just that two teeth look out of place to me and I’m not happy with how it looks. I don’t know whether it’ll be worth the money just to fix to teeth.

    • There will always be some change in the position of your teeth after the removal of your braces. Retainers are the best devices we have to keep those changes to a minimum. You should discuss your concerns with your orthodontist and ask if what you are seeing is normal. If you are unhappy with the position of the teeth or with the answers of your current doctor, you may want to get a second opinion. There is no way to prevent all post-treatment change.

  2. Ryan says:

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

  3. Qi zhe says:

    I think that my retainer is not tight enough, because when I am wearing my retainer, I feel that there is some space or air inside one part of my retainer, and I can suck the air out. It make me looks awkward because my mouth always open until my 1/4 of tongue can come out. And my mouth open bigger than who wears retainer.
    Should I go to see my orthodontist and change a new retainer.

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