The journey to a perfect smile doesn’t end with the removal of braces; it enters a vital maintenance phase where retainers play a key role. This blog post aims to illuminate what can happen when retainers are neglected after undergoing orthodontic treatment. We’ll explore the potential setbacks in teeth alignment and oral health, emphasizing why retainers are more than just a post-treatment recommendation – they are a necessity. Join us as we unravel the consequences of not wearing your retainers and provide insights on how to keep your smile perfectly aligned and healthy post-braces.

What are Retainers?

Retainers are custom-made orthodontic devices designed to maintain the position of teeth after braces or other forms of orthodontic treatment. They come in different types, including fixed and removable versions, each serving the crucial function of preventing teeth from moving back to their original positions, a phenomenon known as relapse. Retainers are an essential part of the orthodontic journey, ensuring the long-term success and stability of your new smile.

For expert advice and tailored retainer solutions, turn to Kumra Orthodontics, a leading orthodontist in Washington DC. Their team is dedicated to providing comprehensive care and guidance, helping patients navigate the post-braces phase with confidence and ease.

Different Type of Retainers

Retainers come in various types, each designed to suit different orthodontic needs and preferences. The most common types are fixed retainers, which consist of a thin wire bonded to the back of the teeth, offering a permanent solution to keep teeth in place. Removable retainers include the Hawley retainer, made of metal wires and acrylic, and the clear plastic retainers, similar to Invisalign trays, which are virtually invisible and fit snugly over the teeth.

Each type has its own advantages: fixed retainers are great for continuous wear without the need for patient compliance, while removable retainers offer more flexibility and ease of cleaning. The choice of retainer often depends on the specific dental situation, patient’s lifestyle, and the recommendation of the orthodontist, with the ultimate goal being to maintain the results achieved through orthodontic treatment.

Consequences of Not Wearing Retainers

You don’t want your orthodontist’s treatment efforts to go to waste. Here are some of the most common consequences of not wearing your retainers:

Teeth Shifting

Failing to wear your retainers regularly can result in teeth gradually shifting back toward your pre-braces position. The extent of shifting can vary depending on factors, such as the duration of non-compliance and individual oral conditions. Over time, your teeth may move to an undesired position, compromising the previous orthodontic work. This movement not only affects the alignment and appearance of your smile but can also lead to bite issues and the need for further orthodontic treatment.

Bite Changes

In addition to teeth shifting, not wearing retainers can lead to changes in your bite, impacting both function and comfort. Over time, this can result in an improper bite alignment, potentially causing issues like TMJ disorders and uneven wear on your teeth. Without the support of your retainers, your bite can become unstable, which may cause discomfort, difficulty chewing, and even jaw alignment issues, affecting both your oral health and overall quality of life.


The absence of retainer use can lead to overcrowding as your teeth slowly move and become misaligned again, making dental hygiene more challenging and increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease. This can create a crowded appearance, affecting the aesthetics of your smile and potentially compromising your oral health, and may require additional orthodontic intervention to rectify.

TMJ Issues

Without the support of retainers, the position of your malleable jaw may become misaligned, leading to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues. These can manifest as jaw pain, where you might hear clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth. You may also experience headaches and difficulty in fully opening or closing your mouth.

Orthodontic Relapse

An orthodontic relapse refers to the unwanted movement of teeth after braces. It occurs when your teeth completely revert to their pre-brace position. Not wearing your retainers as prescribed by your orthodontist significantly increases the risk of this instance. And in cases like this, you’ll have to redo your orthodontic treatment all over again.

Emotional Disappointment 

Not wearing retainers and experiencing teeth relapse can be emotionally disappointing, often leading to a decrease in self-confidence and satisfaction with your appearance. It undoes all the hard work and effort you and your orthodontist put into achieving a straight smile, which can be disheartening and demotivating. This may lead to feelings of frustration, regret, and a desire to regain the progress previously made, affecting your emotional well-being.

Doubled Costs For Retreatment

Requiring retreatment due to teeth relapse can also be very costly, doubling the investment in time and money for your orthodontic care. Consistent retainer use after braces can help you avoid the additional expenses associated with retreatment, which not only impacts your budget but also means undergoing the orthodontic process all over again.


Wearing retainers after having braces is very important if you want to maintain the results of your orthodontic treatment. If you neglect to wear your retainers, it can only lead to undesirable outcomes– teeth shifting, bite changes, orthodontic relapse, etc. 

So, it’s best that you get the longevity of your orthodontic results to enjoy a confident, well-aligned smile for the succeeding years to come. Consistency and commitment are the keys to preserving the investment you made in your oral health!