You finally decided it was worth the investment to get your teeth fixed and invested in braces. You loved the results, but unfortunately they didn’t last. Your teeth may have quickly gone back to where they were before, or perhaps the movement was slow, but now you have crooked teeth again.

The good news is that teeth can be moved back into place if they relapse after braces. And we can prevent relapse.

Why Teeth Relapse

dreamstime_s_16571937Tooth relapse after braces is very common, especially in the first year after braces. The cause is simple: your teeth have been moved, but they haven’t become fully fixed in their new places yet.

When braces and other orthodontic treatments move your teeth, they cause your body to remodel bone around your teeth, removing it on one side where force is pushing too hard and putting it down on the other side where there isn’t enough force. However, this new bone that’s laid down may not initially be as hard as your original bone, which means that your teeth have a tendency to move back to their former position.

In addition, the periodontal ligament, the soft tissue that actually holds your tooth in place, hasn’t initially adapted to your new tooth position. Instead, it’s just become stretched like a rubber band, tending to pull the tooth back.

Finally, because many dentists don’t use functional orthodontics to remodel your bite, your bite can be pushing on your teeth in a way that tends to drive them back to their old position.

Preventing and Treating Relapse

The best way to prevent relapse of straight teeth is to wear your retainer according to your dentist’s instructions. The retainer is designed to help teeth stay in place until the bone remodeling and periodontal ligaments are fully adapted to your new tooth position. At first, you may have to wear your retainer frequently, but over time you will wear it less and less.

But if your teeth have already relapsed, new orthodontic treatment may be necessary. The good news is that this rarely takes as long as your initial set of braces did–maybe six weeks or less–and can easily be accomplished with Invisalign.

We will also evaluate your bite to minimize the risk of relapse and make sure that it is not putting you at risk for TMJ.

To learn more about treating relapse after braces, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist in Columbia, SC at Smile Columbia Dentistry.