Crooked teeth=not sexy
February 10, 2008 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Would it be safe/beneficial to wear my old retainer again? My teeth have started moving!

I had braces from about fifth grade through late middle school. I'm a college sophomore now. I wore my retainer, but not for as long as they said- I think they told me six months and I did four or something.

I've noticed over the past year that my bottom two front teeth seem to be moving- one out, the other in. This basically terrifies me, especially because I'm worried I may have caused it by not wearing the retainer for long enough. I just found my old wire-and-plastic retainer, and I'm thinking about wearing it at night and seeing if it can reverse, or at least halt, the migration. But it's been six years at least- will they even fit anymore? Will the plastic be faulty? Is this just a dumb idea in general?

Please let me know if this might work- I don't want to have to get braces again.
posted by showbiz_liz to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It may hurt. I wore a retainer after not for a little while (less than six years), and although my teeth did not move very far, wearing the retainer again was painful. It rubbed up against spots and made the top of my mouth raw, and whatever else was going on didn't seem like very much.

So, if things are moving, it probably won't fit, and won't be pleasant to wear.
posted by that girl at 12:59 PM on February 10, 2008

Snaggle teeth = not sexy
Unique, slightly crooked, non-chiclet teeth = sexy

But if it's getting out of control, go see your orthodontist.
posted by clh at 1:11 PM on February 10, 2008

It's not a dumb idea. I have the same problem -- one lower tooth leaning in, the other tilting out -- but wearing my eighth-grade retainer even one night a week helps keep them from migrating too far. My mouth does get a bit sore, but my teeth are at least not getting worse!
posted by bluenausea at 1:26 PM on February 10, 2008

It depends how much your teeth have moved. If I leave mine out for more than a few days it's mildly uncomfortable when I put it in, but it does keep your teeth in place. So I'd say if you can get the retainer in, go for it, but you might need a new one.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:31 PM on February 10, 2008

I had all manner of orthodontics from fifth grade through late middle school also (bianator, braces). Yeah, your teeth shift a little as you get older. I'm 34 -- I'll vouch that the teeth don't just keep drifting back to their original positions until all the orthodontics are for naught.

We endure all that poking around in the mouth and having metal clamped to us and painful regular tightening and weird-tasting plastic retainers and dire warnings to wear them and stuff for the most traumatic years of adolescence...and then we stop seeing the orthodontist because we're done. It would be nice if they would warn us about the teeth-shifting thing. Not sure that at 14 I would have cared, though!

You should talk about this with your dentist or old orthodontist. I doubt that just wearing your old retainer is a good idea, but they may make a new one for you.
posted by desuetude at 2:01 PM on February 10, 2008

Well shit, it turns out I can't even get it in anymore. I guess I might need to just see a dentist.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:02 PM on February 10, 2008

Go talk to an orthodontist and see what they say. If they think it's serious, maybe you could get a clear retainer like this? My older brother had braces, retainers, headgear, the whole thing, for years and he still wears a top and bottom retainer every night. And he's 22.
posted by MadamM at 2:58 PM on February 10, 2008

I wore my retainer for a few years after getting the braces off, up into college. My orthodonist basically said I should wear it as long as I needed; if I left it out for a while my top front teeth would gap. No David Letterman, but enough to keep using it. Gradually I just gave up on it, and my teeth gapped a bit, but nothing like I was worried about.
posted by shinynewnick at 3:28 PM on February 10, 2008

I second you're a kitty!. When I was wearing a removable retainer, leaving it out for a day or two was uncomfortable, but anything more than that hurt.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:29 PM on February 10, 2008

Go see the orthodontist the next time you're home. They may not even charge you for making a new one. I have a friend with terrible teeth and was very surprised when she told my daughter that she had, indeed, worn braces as a teenager. You'd never know.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:35 PM on February 10, 2008

I had braces as a kid, and now that I'm nearing 30, I'm still wearing a lower retainer one night a week (as recommended by my orthodontist, who -- fortunately -- adjusts my retainer yearly for free!). It always hurts when I wear it each week, because my bottom teeth keep moving. The scary thing is, my orthodontist told me that the lower teeth never stop moving after they've been corrected. And he said no one really knows why. Pretty scary/annoying... So I suppose I might be wearing this retainer one night a week, uh... forever? Hmm.

An alternative is to get a "space maintainer" which is a wire cemented to your front several teeth on the bottom -- it's pretty much invisible because it goes behind your teeth instead of in the front. Of course, it might be pretty pricey. Good luck!
posted by trillian at 4:49 PM on February 10, 2008

I have permanent retainers on both my upper and lower front teeth — wires cemented in place on the inside of my teeth. It's a pain to floss around them but I don't have to worry about my teeth moving around or whether I'm wearing a retainer often enough.
posted by orange swan at 6:18 PM on February 10, 2008

My lower teeth shifted a bit in the few years after my braces came off, but then they stopped moving and have been in the same positions for, ahem, a very long time now.

From what little I know about orthodontics (raised in a dental family), I think putting an old retainer in periodically is a bad idea. It's going to loosen up the tooth-to-jawbone connections and generally make things unstable.

Find some way to objectively watch the teeth -- take a picture once a week? If they keep moving then make an appointment with a/your orthodontist.
posted by intermod at 8:22 PM on February 10, 2008

About 5 years after I stopped getting orthodontic consultations I had some issues and while visiting my parents scheduled a check-up with my old orthodontist - it was perfectly fine and not particularly expensive to have a check-up and get some advice on upcoming dentistry. Trying to self-diagnose and self-treat these issues is, yes, dumb. Go see a pro.
posted by nanojath at 10:03 PM on February 10, 2008

I am sure you can go see your old orthodontist. This is not an uncommon problem. They may be able to make you a couple "graduated" clear plastic retainers - those "invisalign"-type things - to push your teeth back in to place. After they're back, you can get the permanent wire mentioned by orange swan (why didn't they give me one on the top too!?!). It's great!
posted by radioamy at 9:40 AM on February 11, 2008

Many years after I quit wearing braces, I went to consult an orthodontist about my shifting teeth and was told that anyone who wanted their teeth to stay straight needed to keep wearing a retainer at night for as long as they wanted their teeth to remain straight. It was too late for me so I didn't ask specifics like how many nights a week, but it's something to keep in mind for anyone who still has the option.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:49 AM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I noticed my bottom teeth doing the same thing (one being pushed forward by the one next to it turning counterclockwise). I mentioned it to my dentist, and she said it's normal. She suggested an orthodontist if it concerned me.

The real bitch of it is that I didn't need any orthodontics as a kid/teen. My last dentist and oral surgeon both asked "How long ago did you have your braces removed?" when they started doing their thing... Now that I'm 30, I'm facing needing a retainer or having teeth like my great grandmother's.
posted by jeversol at 12:23 PM on February 12, 2008

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