Not happy with teeth after braces. What should I do?
June 17, 2014 6:15 PM   Subscribe

I had both invisalign and braces because invisalign did not correct all of the problems, especially the 2 upper front teeth so I had to wear braces for about 3 months. I was done with braces about 2 months ago and I've been wearing a set of retainers every night. I've noticed that my teeth tend to shift pretty quickly that it feels tight when I put on my retainer every night. Also, there's a tiny gap between 1 of the front teeth and the retainer. It's almost as if the tooth cannot touch the retainer. Is that normal? This is a picture of how my teeth look currently. They do not look bad but one of the upper front teeth isn't very straight and it bothers me. Those of you who have had experience with braces, what do you think I should do? If I go back to the orthodontist, is it likely that I will be charged? Thank you for your time!
posted by missybitsy to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I literally cannot see anything wrong with your teeth. They look perfectly straight and lovely to me. You have a great smile!

I think if you go back to the orthodontist she will not understand why you're there. Is there some physical sensation of not-straightness that's bothering you? Like it feels weird against your tongue or something? You might be able to explain something like that and get some traction without paying more.

But if you think there's something visually wrong with your teeth, I respectfully suggest you may be mistaken.
posted by kythuen at 6:21 PM on June 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

I also think your teeth look great. I could see that teeny tiny gap, but only because you mentioned it, and I don't think it's worth trying to change it.

As for the tightness: yeah, that's how it goes. Once you get braces, you are stuck with a retainer or something similar for life if you don't want your teeth to shift. My teeth started to shift after my dog ate my top retainer. My bottom teeth shifted after my permanent retainer came lose and had to be removed.

My advice: wear your retainer at night, and enjoy your lovely smile.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:25 PM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

If I stare at your teeth I can maybe see that one looks to be a slightly different length than the other? Or maybe a different shape? Or the gum is higher? And maybe a tiny gap? But if I wasn't looking for something, I wouldn't have noticed it, and even after seeing it I think your teeth look great. And I'm currently wearing braces and therefore stare at and mentally criticize everyone's teeth all the time.

If you have questions or unhappiness, you should definitely call your orthodontist. Given the nature of how orthodontics are paid for (flat fee for service, not per visit), at least in my experience, I don't think they would charge you if you asked to come in for a follow-up visit, though of course this depends on your relationship with your orthodontist and what type of person he is. In my experience (and my geographic area), orthodontic consults are free, so you could also try visiting a few other orthodontists and see what they have to say about your teeth.
posted by unannihilated at 6:31 PM on June 17, 2014

If your teeth are prone to shifting, a fixed retainer is probably the way to go -- I don't remember how much mine cost (and it being unmemorable I'd guess it was either figured into the cost of follow-up care up front or just a minor office visit fee). It's just a wire cemented to the back of the teeth, so, not visible to anyone else, and not uncomfortable like braces and/or retainers. Mine are on the two front top teeth & the 4 front lower.

I think fixed retainers are not recommended over removable retainers because they're not as good for you in terms of dental hygiene, but, I couldn't wear a removable retainer without it giving me a headache, and my teeth started to shift pretty rapidly once the braces were off, and since I'd been through several years of braces & major jaw surgery, I opted for them pretty quickly (and, frankly, I think the orthodontist was kind of apologetic for not insisting on them in the first place).
posted by oh yeah! at 6:34 PM on June 17, 2014

You're only wearing the retainer at night? They're not going to stay if you're only wearing the retainer at night. Fixed is recommended for some adults because of exactly that, but I'm frankly shocked that your orthodontist is okay with you only wearing the retainer at night right off the bat. It's no wonder it feels tight. I think it looks fine, but I don't think your end result's going to be good if you don't get 24/7 retention at least until they're stable.
posted by Sequence at 6:38 PM on June 17, 2014

I have had permanent retainers on my two front teeth and lower front teeth, for about... holy shit, 16 years. Highly recommended. Removable retainers couldn't keep my teeth in place, either.

Your teeth are fabulous, though.
posted by Coatlicue at 6:38 PM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

What kind of retainers do you have? I had a lot of shifting with the open kind with the wire across the teeth and plastic palate piece. They switched me to the kind that are like Invisalign trays and I've been fine since. (For several years now.)

Also, have you only been wearing them at night? At first you need it wear them daytime too, except when eating. Then when you get the OK from the orthodontist, you can move on to jet at night.
posted by dayintoday at 6:43 PM on June 17, 2014

I think your orthodontist delivered a reasonable result, because your teeth look terrific. Terrific-looking teeth are consistent with microscopic, subjective alleged defects that will be perceived only by you.
posted by Mr. Justice at 6:52 PM on June 17, 2014

How old are you? My dentist told me that if you get braces when you're older and your jaw is set your teeth will move much more easily than if you'd gotten them in adolescence (when the jaw can harden/set around the straightened teeth). For that reason, I have to wear a permanent behind-the-teeth retainer.

FWIW, I got my braces off at 20 and at 33 they're still straight.
posted by kate blank at 6:52 PM on June 17, 2014

You should be able to have a frank discussion with the orthodontist about your concerns. You paid this person, presumably, thousands of dollars for a straight smile that you should be happy with. On the other hand, the orthodontist should be frank about the limitations of treatment.

If your retainer doesn't fit, then it doesn't fit. I know that a lot of people would be happy to have a smile like yours but that's not your problem because you're not happy.
posted by Cuspidx at 7:07 PM on June 17, 2014

Definitely ask about permanent retainers. My ortho doesn't do them for the top teeth for some reason but I have had one on my bottom teeth for 15+ years. I wore a top retainer at night for a long time too.

Also after I had my braces off my ortho did something where he cut the fibers of my gums to keep my teeth from snapping into place. Not sure if it is something that's still done?
posted by radioamy at 7:15 PM on June 17, 2014

Here's the thing. Perfect teeth are not natural. That's why people make fun of Gary Busey's chiclet teeth - it's an overzealous attempt at achieving perfection and just looks absurd. Minor gaps and such are what make your smile look natural rather than manipulated. Your smile is GREAT.

Also, if you had this orthodontic work done as an adult, chances are it's not going to stay this way forever anyway, so don't kill yourself trying to achieve perfection. I've posted before on here that my teeth went right back to pre-Invisalign wonkiness after a couple of years. I have asked many dentists and orthodontists about this and they have all told me the sad truth is it's really really really REALLY hard for adults to permanently correct their teeth with orthodontia because your palate is already "hardened" and expects your teeth to be in a certain place, and they will bounce back eventually. The reason that braces are so common on young kids is their palate is still malleable enough to train teeth to permanently go to a new place.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:05 PM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would go back the the orthodontist and ask them to very carefully explain what the retainer is doing.* Retainers can be sprung to correct last small mistakes, such as putting the two front teeth exactly in line, for example. Unless that alignment is achieved, obviously, the wire doesn't touch booth teeth. It only touches the one that's still in the process of being aligned.

* Layman's version (no guarantees): Tooth mouvement is achieved by putting pressure on one side of the tooth, whereupon the ligament that connects it with the bone is slightly compressed on one side, and stretched on the other. The bone, not lazy, eventually reacts to push and pull by shifting/rebuilding the pocket in which the tooth is seated.
This process of moving teeth takes time, and it takes even more time to consolidate the results. Nightly retainer wear--as others said--is a bit minimal for any good consolidation, and the time spans you're mentioning seem way too short for any stability. The fact alone that, after one single day, your teeth have moved enough to make your retainer feel tight shows that they haven't fully found their place yet. The In and Out of the retainer will also keep them more mobile, making the process of consolidation an even longer one.

So that's why people here are mentioning permanent retainers; the alternative is wearing your retainer at least for a substantial part during the day, too.
posted by Namlit at 8:50 AM on June 20, 2014

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