Will Retainers Shift Teeth Back Into Place 6 Months After Braces? (photo)

I got my braces off six months ago. My teeth shifted because I haven't worn my retainers ever since. If I wear them now, will my teeth go back to being straight?

Doctor Answers 9

Retainers Can Shift Teeth Back Into Place

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It is important for retainers to be worn immediately following braces removal or your teeth are prone to shifting.  Most retainers are meant to "retain" or hold the teeth in place. If there is mild shifting, then it is possible for retainers to shift the teeth back.  If the shifting is more than mild, then there are always minor retreatment options such as active retainers or Invisalign Express.

Washington Orthodontist
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews


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The retainers can move them only if they have shifted very minimally. If they don't fit, you can go for a short duration smile correction treatment and then just remember to wear the retainers forever.

Teeth shifting after not wearing retainers

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Retainers typically keep your teeth straight when worn just at night. For active tooth movement like your case they should be worn full time. If your retainer still fits you can start wearing it and you should see improved alignment quickly. Let your doctor know you're back on board, I'm sure he/she would be happy to make any needed adjustments.

Rob van den Berg, DDS, MS
San Ramon Orthodontist

Will Retainers Shift Teeth Back Into Place 6 Months After Braces?

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You certainly can try. If there was a very minor movement, you might have a chance. Otherwise please consider a short term braces or a short term Invisalign. The last one became a popular option in recent years, because of lower cost and aesthetically  pleasing way to get straight teeth back.

Tooth angulation

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I'm so sorry your teeth shifted. From the photos you included it seems as though your tooth front teeth have tipped toward each other. This is not something I would expect to correct using your retainer, even if worn full time. In the mean time please wear your retainers to at least keep the problem from worsening.Follow up with the doctor who originally straightened your teeth to discuss limited treatment to re-correct the alignment.. Once your teeth are straight again, please wear your retainers diligently as directed.

Kurt Silberstein, DDS, MS
Highland Park Orthodontist

Teeth Do Shift

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Retainers do exactly what they say they do, "retain" or hold the teeth in their corrected positions. I'm not sure why one would go through the process and cost of correcting one's teeth and not follow their orthodontist's instructions of wearing the post treatment retainers. Before you try to "jam" the retainers in the mouth, its very important to make a follow up appointment with your orthodontist to  re-evaluate your teeth and determine IF the current retainers fit or can be adjusted. With minor tooth movement and tight retainers, wearing them 24/7 for a determined time may move them back into place. Only an orthodontist can determine that. If the teeth have moved to a point where the current retainers do not fit, clear aligner therapy is an option (Clear Correct, Invisalign, etc..) There are other types of removable spring loaded retainers that can also move teeth. Again, before you do anything, PLEASE make a follow up appointment with your orthodontist.

Stuart J. Hoffman, DMD, MS
Calabasas Orthodontist

Some Retainers Can Move Your Teeth a Bit

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It really depends on what type of retainers you have, and how far your teeth have moved from their original position. 

If your retainers don't fit at all that isn't a good sign, but it sounds like you can put them back in. Either way I'd swing by whoever gave you the retainers and tell them what happened. They may be able to make some adjustments with them to get your teeth moved back where they need to be.

Scott Frey, DDS
Allentown Orthodontist

Your retainer 6 mos after treatment

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It is possible, especially if you have your original retainer from when your braces were removed. However as Dr Koutsoukos said "The retainer is not to move teeth, but to maintain them in the position they should stay in after braces. You need to go back and speak with your orthodontist and see what he says." so don;t forget to take your retainers with you when you go for your appointment.


Don;t be embarrassed about going in, your not the first or the last to do this.

Jacqueline Demko, DDS, MSD
Chesterfield Orthodontist

Will wearing my retainer after my teeth shifted move them back?

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A retainer is a custom made removable device that helps the teeth maintain their position after braces.  You had your braces removed 6 months ago and have not worn any retainer and now your teeth have shifted back.The retainer is not to move teeth, but to maintain them in the position they should stay in after braces. You need to go back and speak with your orthodontist and see what he says. Do not put the retainer in now until you check with your Dr. first. It was made to retain your teeth in the position they were in after braces. Do not force the retainer on teeth that have already moved back.  See your doctor before you do anything else and do not wait!  Good luck!

George Koutsoukos, DDS
Valencia Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.