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Shift Happens: Why are your teeth moving after braces?

Jun 16 / 2017

Having your braces removed is a reason to smile, but if you want to keep your perfectly aligned smile, you’re going to have to wear your retainer.

When you think about retainers, images of saliva filled retainers probably fill your mind. The ones that people have to awkwardly take out and place in their case before eating in public.

I bet you’re quivering at those thoughts. It’s not like that. We promise!

In this blog post, we break down the reason why you need a retainer and answer some of your frequently asked questions regarding after braces care.

What does a retainer do?


After your braces come off, you need your teeth to stay in their new positions. Your retainer will be your best friend in making this happen. A retainer’s primary job is to help stabilize your teeth after braces.

Teeth like to naturally move or settle into the position with the most contact that your upper and lower jaws create when biting down. Teeth also do something called relapse, which occurs when your teeth and bone start to move back, forming a misalignment. Shift happens!

You and your orthodontic provider are aiming to avoid relapsing back to your old alignment because of all the hard work you’ve put into your new smile.

Wearing your retainer will help keep your teeth stay in place until the bone remodeling and periodontal ligaments are fully adapted to your new tooth position.

What type of retainer is the best option for me?

There are two types of retainers.

Removable retainers have metal sections to place around the teeth and a molding of the roof of your mouth. This aligns with your mouth and clicks into place and you guessed it… it's removable! At Align Ortho, Dr. Scramstad uses clear essix type of retainers for his clients. He decided on these clear retainers because they are more esthetic and more comfortable than the plastic and wire ones. The clear retainers are also easier to clean.   

Fixed retainers are small wires, which are fitted to the back surface of your teeth to hold the new position. These retainers can only be removed from an orthodontic provider.

How long do you have to wear it for?

Dr. James Scramstad doesn’t hand out retainers just for the fun of it. When a retainer is given to you, please wear it. The amount of time you have to wear your retainer depends on the type of retainer you were given and the extent of your treatment. 

If you have a removable retainer, Dr. Scramstad recommends night only wear for 18-24 months, but he will give each patient a customized prescription.

If you have  fixed retainer, well… it’s fixed. So it will be in your mouth until it’s removed, which can be many years.

Why am I lisping?

If you’re thinking you sound funny, you probably do. Do you remember the time period that it took for you to get comfortable with your braces? There’s going to be another time period for you to get used to your retainer.

If you have a removable retainer, it will take you a day or two to get accustomed to them and speak properly. It’s also normal to experience a lot of saliva in your mouth.

Don’t worry, you will learn to speak properly again and the amount of saliva in your mouth will go back to normal.

What happens if I lose my retainer?

Dog ate your retainer? Or, did you just misplace it? Either way, you’re going to need to get it replaced.

If you lose your retainer, first, clean your room and try to find it. If it’s gone forever, call Dr. Scramstad to make an appointment to replace it. You’re going to want to make that call as soon as possible because without your retainer, your teeth have the possibility of relapsing.

How do I care for my retainer?


1. Rinse - Always rinse your retainer as soon as you take it out of your mouth. Warm or cool water is fine. Don’t be scared to use your fingers to help remove buildup that’s formed.

2. Soak - If you notice a buildup of plaque on your retainer Dr. Scramstad recommends using Polident Retainer tablets. Make sure the water is not too hot and follow the directions on the package.

3. Scrub - Use warm water and a “soft” toothbrush (do not use toothpaste) to scrub your retainer. Scrub in all tiny crevices between that’s where buildup and bacteria can be formed. Brush your retainer every single day!

4. Rinse Again - After scrubbing your retainer, you need to rinse it again. You don’t want to put it back in your mouth tasting like soap or other cleaning solutions.

5. Put it back - Pick one of the following. Your retainer should either be in your mouth or in it’s case we gave you.

Don’t give up after the long wait

We know you’ve patiently gone through your braces treatment, but don’t give up now that Dr. Scramstad has given you your retainer. You finally have your straight pearly whites and we want you to keep them. 

By wearing your retainer you’re making the promise to maintain your smile and showing everyone that your braces were 100% worth the investment of time and money.

If you have any further questions about retainers, Align Ortho is here to answer your questions. Contact the office at any time during office hours and we’d be happy help.




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