What Happens if I Don’t Wear My Retainer?

Your retainer. You remember your orthodontist telling you how important it was, but that was years ago, and you haven’t given it even a second glance lately. It may be collecting dust in some drawer, or maybe it’s lost forever, but no matter what, wearing it is still a big deal. Life happens and it’s understandable when some things, like wearing your retainer, fall by the wayside, but it’s important to get back into your routine for the best results.

Shifting Teeth

Our teeth are always on the move. Granted, they may not move quickly, but our teeth are always shifting and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your orthodontist’s instructions post-treatment about proper retainer wear. Your retainer is critical to maintaining your straight, healthy smile, so wear it and wear it often! This is especially critical the first year after treatment, when your teeth are at the highest risk of shifting back. But wearing your retainer is always important, even if you’ve had your braces off for decades! So, wear your retainer to avoid this happening to you.

If You’ve Stopped Wearing Your Retainer…

One thing you don’t want to do is force your retainer back into your mouth if you haven’t worn it for an extended period of time. When you force your retainer back in, you run the risk of:

  • Damaging your retainer
  • Damaging your teeth
  • Causing yourself discomfort and pain

Instead, a trip to your orthodontist’s office is advised, so they can determine what comes next.

Your Next Steps

Your orthodontist will evaluate you to decide if additional treatment is needed and where to go from there. Many patients opt for Invisalign to help them move their teeth back to the way they were, and some of them can use shorter treatment plans, like Invisalign Lite or Express to fix minor problems. However, if your teeth have shifted just slightly, a tweak to your retainer may be all you need to get back on track and prevent further damage.

Failure to wear your retainer properly can result in more time and money spent on orthodontic treatment, which isn’t something you were probably planning on, so do your best to follow your orthodontist’s instructions after your braces are removed or you finish wearing your last Invisalign aligner. Preventing this problem is always best, but if it’s too late for that, be sure to loop your orthodontist in and don’t try to fix the situation yourself. You worked hard for that smile, so take care of it!