If you could turn back time, maybe you would have worn your retainer after you completed orthodontic treatment in your teenage years. Your orthodontist would have told you that you would need to wear an overnight retainer after your braces were removed to prevent your teeth from attempting to revert to their pre-treatment positions. Perhaps you didn't follow those instructions, and although it might have taken years, your teeth are slowly relapsing. So now what?
Not a Suggestion
Wearing a retainer after braces have been removed should not be interpreted as a suggestion. In many cases, the guidance from an orthodontist would be to wear the retainer overnight, and even during select times of the day. Compliance with these instructions is essential for preventing the situation you're now encountering as an adult, which is called orthodontic relapse.
Your teeth won't have returned to their precise pre-treatment position, but they may be headed in that direction. Despite the misalignment of your bite and the fact that some teeth may have been rotated, as far as your jaw and dental sockets are concerned, this is a perfectly natural layout for your teeth. The relapse may have taken years, leading you to believe that it's not a major concern, but it will eventually become quite conspicuous. And it may not be over yet.
Halting orthodontic relapse means you'll need another round of treatment. It's better to act quickly. You could receive another set of traditional metal (or ceramic) orthodontic braces. But as an adult, you may be unwilling to display this look for the required months. Invisible braces (also known as clear aligners), such as Invisalign, are a better bet. However, they can't correct cases of severe bite misalignment, which is why it's better to deal with orthodontic relapse as soon as you suspect that it's affecting you.
Your orthodontist will create a model of your bite (either digitally or with a manual impression), and this will be used to create a series of trays, with each tray shifting your teeth by approximately .25 to .33 millimeters. Because your treatment might not be as involved as a patient receiving orthodontic work for the first time, your treatment may be accelerated. This varies depending on the severity of your relapse, and your orthodontist will tell you about how long your re-treatment will require to be successful.
Orthodontic relapse is unfortunate, and the most discreet way to correct this problem is with Invisalign braces. However, once this secondary orthodontic treatment is finished, please make sure you wear your retainer unless you happen to want a third round of treatment in the future.
Contact a local dentist to learn more about Invisalign.