Can My Teeth Move Back After Braces? - Video Guide

In this video, Dr. Douglas Palaganas explains how the teeth can move after braces.

When your braces come off, it means your teeth are in the correct positions! But can they move back?

When you finish treatment, your orthodontist will provide you with a retainer. T here are various kinds of retainers: some are permanently fixed inside your mouth, behind the teeth, and some are removable to wear only at night.

By wearing the retainer properly, you will keep your teeth in their correct positions. Failure to wear the retainer can cause your teeth to move, sometimes moving entirely back to their original positions. T hat’s why it’s so important to wear your retainers as instructed by your retainer.

woman wearing braces before teeth relapse

Why Can Teeth Move Back After Braces?

During your treatment, your teeth are held in place by the therapy appliance. For braces, they are permanently held in place by the brackets and wires; for Invisalign, they are held in place with the clear aligners worn 22 hours a day.

When the appliance is over, the pressure holding your teeth in place is removed. Some settling is natural as your teeth find their place, and this can cause shifting out of the alignment created by orthodontia.

That’s where retainers come in: they are the key to continuing enough pressure to keep your teeth in place post-treatment!

Your Retainer is Part of Your Braces Treatment, Too!

Although the day you finish your treatment is very exciting, the work is not completely done! Your retainer is a long-term part of your orthodontic care, and while it is much less work than your treatment, wearing it properly is important to keeping your smile in fit form.

There are a few different kinds of retainers. Your orthodontist will provide you with the right one for your care:

  • Nighttime retainer:  this removal appliance fits over your teeth and is meant to be worn every night. Keep it clean by washing/brushing it regularly, and keep it stored in a case during the day so it doesn’t get lost or damaged.
  • Permanent retainer:  This appliance is permanently affixed to the roof of your mouth. It’s entirely hidden behind your teeth, making it easy to keep your teeth in place without the appearance of orthodontia.
  • Clear retainers: These are a set of clear aligners that are molded to fit over your teeth. Some are meant to be worn at night; your orthodontist may have you wear them for longer in the beginning.

Learn more about retainers and how they help protect your healthy, happy, lifelong smile .

Maintain Oral Health with Regular Brushing, Flossing, and Healthy Habits

Keeping your teeth and mouth clean is important during treatment, after treatment – and forever!  Be sure to brush twice a day and floss every day. Avoid sugary or sticky foods, and brush your teeth after eating them.

Visit the dentist regularly  for cleanings and examination, to prevent cavities or other dental damage, which can impact the placement of your teeth and move them back.

You will also have a follow-up visit with your orthodontist after treatment, where you can ask any questions and the orthodontist can evaluate your teeth.

Learn more about proper oral healthcare and how to keep teeth clean all the time .

woman who smile

Some Movement is Normal, But Following Your Orthodontist’s Directions Will Help Keep You Smiling!

Even with all of the above, a little bit of movement is normal.  By wearing your retainer properly and taking good care of your teeth and mouth, the movement should be slight, and keep your straight teeth and beautiful smile intact.