Can Your Teeth Relapse if You Don’t Wear Your Aligners?

Eagan, MN – Orthodontic patients everywhere have experienced the huge advantages that come with undergoing Invisalign treatment. The aligners are removable, clear and comfortable, and patients and orthodontists rave about them. But because they are removable, there is a chance patients can forget to wear them. So what happens then?

“It is possible to experience a relapse in the alignment of your teeth if you forget to wear your aligner for a period of time,” says your Minnesota orthodontist. “Each series of aligners has been custom crafted to guide your teeth into their ideal locations, and are calibrated based on proper wear. If you forget to wear your aligner, or make the choice to not wear it as prescribed, you might notice your aligner doesn’t fit correctly when you try to wear it again.”

And that is because the teeth will have drifted back to their previous locations. During orthodontic treatment, whether you choose Invisalign or another form of braces, your teeth are loosened from their old positions as they are guided into their new ones. The tissues that hold the teeth in place are elastic, and if they aren’t used to the new locations, they’ll bounce back to bring the teeth to their old place.

To work effectively, orthodontic treatment has to loosen your teeth so they can shift into their proper places. Some people who have taken their aligners off, even for just a short period of time, say when they put it back on, it feels tighter – even just an hour or two of being off.

While not wearing your aligner for only a couple of hours won’t be enough to throw your treatment off track, forgetting to wear it for several hours every day will be. And throw in the pressure you put on your teeth each day, in the form of eating, clenching and grinding, and you’ve created an environment perfect for teeth to relapse.

Aligners should be worn a minimum of 22 hours a day, and should only be removed to brush and floss, and to eat and drink. However, because they are removable, some patients may think this means they can take them out for prom, or their big party, or just because they want to.

“When patients are deciding if Invisalign is right for them, one of the things I stress to them is proper aligner wear,” says Dr. Eisenhuth. “For some patients, especially younger ones, it may be harder to remember to wear them as prescribed. In those cases, Invisalign may not be right for them.”

Some patients may experience a mouth injury or other situation that may make wearing the aligner painful until the injury heals. In this case, it is important to speak with your orthodontist as soon as possible so she can craft a plan that can take the injury into account, hopefully without setting your treatment back too far.

If you are worried you may have experienced a relapse, schedule an appointment with Dr. Eisenhuth right away to ensure your treatment can stay on track. By following all of your orthodontist’s recommendations, you can have a beautifully straight smile in no time.

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