Orthodontic relapse occurs when teeth move again after a straightening treatment, such as braces, has been completed. It is quite common for this to occur – however, there are steps you can take to prevent this happening to you and also to treat and correct it if you do experience it.
What is orthodontic relapse?
Even after a lengthy straightening treatment, such as braces, your teeth can still move and when this happens it is called orthodontic relapse. Many people assume that getting braces removed is the end of the orthodontic process but actually further care is required to avoid orthodontic relapse.
Why does orthodontic relapse occur?
Although braces are a great way to move and straighten teeth they can’t correct the ligaments that connect teeth to the jaw bone. It’s these ligaments that will start to pull teeth once again when braces are removed and can start shifting them back into the position in which they started, often requiring further correcting treatment as a result.
What can you do to prevent orthodontic relapse?
Removable or fixed retainers are the simplest solution to preventing orthodontic relapse. They work to hold your teeth in the position they are in after the straightening treatment has been completed. So, even once the braces come off, if the ligaments in your mouth begin pulling teeth back into their original position, the retainer will stop this from happening.
- Fixed retainers – a thin wire that runs along the back of your teeth and is invisible to anyone but you. Fixed retainers are painless and easy to maintain but can make it difficult to floss.
- Removable retainers – a removable retainer could be a plastic retainer molded to fit teeth and made from clear materials so as to be invisible when worn. Alternatively, your removable retainers may be made from wire that runs across the front of your teeth and is attached to an acrylic piece that sits in the roof of your mouth.
How can you treat orthodontic relapse?
The only way to treat an orthodontic relapse is with a teeth straightening method. However, the good news is that you don’t have to return to having braces once again. There are a number of other, simpler options that can help to re-correct your smile including:
- Invisalign – a series of seven removable aligners that are worn for two weeks each and will gradually move your teeth back into the right position.
- Inman Aligners – a discreet and removable brace that can correct orthodontic relapse in six to 18 weeks.