Is it normal for gaps in my teeth to return within hours of not having retainers on?
I have just removed my braces after orthodontic treatment, and had my retainers fitted. However, I noticed that gaps between my front teeth start to appear again within 3-4 hours of not having retainers on. However, when I wear back the retainers for several hours, the gap seems to be closed back again. What could be the possible causes for this, and is it a cause for concern?
Hi tan57580, congratulations on the completion of your orthodontic treatment!
Our teeth are constantly moving, and people tend to notice that the teeth may "move more" during orthodontic treatment, or within a few months after orthodontic treatment.
The reason is because during orthodontic treatment or after, the periodontal ligament that cushions/holds the teeth in place likes to move back to its old position.
Several of my patients will feedback that upon not wearing the aligners or retainers for a few hours, the teeth may shift slightly, and upon wearing it again it feels tight on the teeth. The aligner or retainers will help to move the teeth back to the ideal position.
The periodontal ligament and bone around the teeth will take a few few months to be stabilized after orthodontic treatment.
The concern would be when the retainer doesn't fit, and a new retainer or another round of orthodontic treatment may be needed to correct the teeth that has since moved out of position.
Most of the time, the retainers issued by your dentist will be sufficient if you adhere to his instructions. You may try that for a start, and if the problem still persists, do consider consulting your dentist.
Dear tan57580, in some cases, teeth can move back very quickly - these are called high risk relapse cases. This may happen for very rotated teeth, or teeth with gaps in the midline.
You could consider asking your orthodontist for a fixed retainer, which is a wire retainer glued to the back of your teeth to help maintain the teeth position, whenever you are not wearing your removal retainers.
Good luck! And don't ever stop wearing those retainers.
Dr Sylvia Tan
Dear Tan 57580, congrats on removal of braces!
Yes, it’s perfectly normal. Teeth will tend to move back to their original positions after braces is taken off.
Studies have shown that the tissues around the teeth take about 232 days to stabilize, after which the teeth will be less prone to shift.
However, teeth will continue to move throughout life. Hence we usually advise our patients to wear retainers full time (24/7 except eating or brushing teeth) for the first 6 months to a year and night time thereafter.
For more info, do come to our NDCS inaugural public forum “Smile Sparkle Shine - a public forum on Oral Health” on the 24 March to find out more!