Touch-Up Treatment For Adult Orthodontic Relapses

Nothing says “celebrate” quite like the day your braces comes off or you use your last aligner. At last, all your hard work and dedication have paid off, and you’ve got a healthier, straighter smile to show for it. You leave the orthodontist’s office with your new retainer and every intention to wear it exactly as directed…and you do, at first. But over time, it becomes easier and easier to forget about it, and you find yourself falling asleep without putting it in. Before you know it, you can’t remember the last time you put it in. You may not even remember where you put it! 

No matter how many times you tell yourself to call the orthodontist about getting the retainer replaced, it just keeps getting pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. Life happens! Then one day you see a picture of yourself smiling, or look in the mirror and notice that your smile is just a little bit off. Upon closer inspection, you realize to your dismay that your teeth have shifted! If this sounds familiar, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Here at Surf City Smiles, we take care of many adult patients who need a bit of touch-up treatment to correct a relapse. 

Keep reading below to learn more about what causes a relapse, and what we can do to help correct it. 

Reasons for a relapse

While it’s not the only thing that can cause relapse, not wearing your retainer as directed is the most common reason. Many patients underestimate how important their retainer is! Treatment doesn’t stop once the braces come off or the aligners run out. The teeth and surrounding bone and gums require time to solidify in their new locations once active treatment is complete. Wearing your retainer regularly counteracts those forces that want to pull them back to their previous position and also helps stabilize them over time. 

There can be other reasons for an orthodontic relapse, however. These include:

Teeth grinding – If you are a chronic tooth grinder, you’re likely already aware of the damage it can cause. Constant grinding produces a continuous force that can place a strain on your teeth and even alter your bite. The resulting tension plays a role in how the teeth are impacted, sometimes causing them to become misaligned over time.

Genetics and natural aging – Even if stellar genetics gave you a beautiful smile to start with, you may notice your teeth naturally shifting as you grow older. This is quite common, especially in the front teeth, which may be more susceptible to shifting under pressure as the enamel begins to wear thin.

Tooth loss – Teeth that are lost due to trauma, decay, or periodontal disease leave an empty space. If not corrected, the teeth surrounding that space may begin drifting towards it. This can eventually lead to an altered bite. 

Why are retainers so important?

Now that you understand more about the different factors that can lead to relapse, it’s easy to see why retainers are such an important part of your orthodontic success!

As we briefly mentioned above, your teeth aren’t the only things we want to stay in place once the initial phase of treatment is complete. The gums and bone in your mouth will need to get used to these new positions too, so they are better able to properly your teeth. Since the tissues surrounding the teeth take a little longer to stabilize in their new position, wearing your retainer regularly greatly helps your gums and bone adapt. This will further stabilize your overall bite. 

To put it another way, the teeth aren’t just fixed in the jaw. Each one is held in its socket by elastic ligaments that attach the roots to the bone. These ligaments are living tissue that are affected by the movement of the teeth, and this attachment is what allows for the small movements of the teeth during treatment. When tension is placed in and around the teeth using an orthodontic appliance like braces or aligners, new ligaments are formed.

Once the first phase of treatment, or remodeling phase, is complete, those same tissues, ligaments, and bone will need a bit of time to stabilize. Without regular retainer use, the teeth will be less stable, and will almost always shift back to their old positions.

Touch-Up Treatment For Adult Orthodontic Relapses

How Surf City Smiles can treat an orthodontic relapse

If your smile has suffered a relapse for any reason, don’t panic! We’re here to help. If you’ve been wearing your retainer properly and are only see minor shifting, we may be able to leave things alone and just keep an eye on things. Minor movements can also be corrected by having new retainers made. However, in the event of significant relapse, we may recommend retreatment. Even minor misalignments can make cleaning your teeth more difficult, increasing the risk for decay and gum disease. The silver lining: correcting a relapse often takes much less time than your original treatment!

At Surf City Smiles, we’re proud to offer the following options to patients looking to improve their oral health and straighten their smile. 

Traditional metal braces

Metal braces are one of the most effective tools we have for correcting misaligned teeth. They are generally composed of medical-grade alloys such as stainless steel or nickel, and can be used for treating both simple and complex tooth issues. They work relatively quickly at closing gaps and aligning teeth, and are a cost-effective choice since they don’t require some of the more complex technology or expensive equipment that newer treatments do. 

Today’s braces are comfortable, subtle, and easily customized. The overall strength, durability, and affordability of traditional braces make them the most popular treatment method, year after year. 

Clear Braces 

Clear braces work the same way metal braces do. Our clear braces are designed to be less noticeable on your teeth than metal braces. They’re smaller than ever and made of nearly invisible tooth-colored polycrystalline ceramic material. These clear braces options blend in well with your natural smile. Though they’re not completely invisible, and the brackets are about the same size and shape, they’re much less noticeable than metal braces.

The Invisalign clear aligner system

Invisalign uses a series of custom-made retainers, called aligners, to gradually straighten your teeth. These trays are clear, smooth, and removable. This allows for an extra measure of freedom and flexibility, as patients experience no irritation from wires or brackets, have no food restrictions, and can remove the aligners to eat, drink, and maintain their regular dental hygiene routine.  

Invisalign works especially well for mild and moderate cases of the most common orthodontic issues, like those often experienced with relapses.

Start smiling again with Surf City Smiles

Whatever the reason for your relapse, Surf City Smiles has got what it takes to get your smile back on track! Our talented team has years of experience providing the highest-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in Huntington Beach and the surrounding communities.

Touching up or repeating your past orthodontic treatment will give you a smile you can be proud of, and will help ensure better oral health in the future, too. Call us today to schedule a consultation and let’s get started!

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