Treatment options for adult orthodontic relapse

Cleaning pieces of food from around brackets, remembering to wear your clear aligners properly, and the many appointments for adjustments. These tasks might sound like distant memories of the time you took to align and adjust your perfect smile many years ago. However, many adults find themselves considering old routines to treat their orthodontic relapse in their current lives. While we can’t change your past experiences with orthodontic treatment, our team at Lake Jackson Orthodontics has helped countless adult patients feel more confident, healthier, and happier using the latest and most innovative retreatment options that will have you smiling throughout the process. 

Your teeth can move your whole life. It doesn’t matter if they started perfectly straight or if you had previous orthodontic treatment to achieve that ideal alignment. They are shifting ever so slightly each day until one day they have adjusted enough to become noticeable, at least to you, change in your appearance. Whether it’s been a year or ten, orthodontic relapse is bound to happen, and Dr. McGrory will help you realign your smile and restore your confidence without sacrificing your time, money, or lifestyle. Keep reading about retreatment options from Lake Jackson Orthodontics and ways to prevent retreatment after your desired smile!

What is orthodontic relapse?

There’s no easy way to say it- teeth are stubborn. It’s not just the enameled-covered tooth that is adjusted when undergoing orthodontic treatment. The roots of the tooth are manipulated, the gums must be corrected, and even the jaw bones are often moved in specific ways to complete your ideal bite and smile alignment. Jaw correction and teeth straightening do not happen overnight; some patients require years to complete treatment based on the severity of their misalignment. It can be frustrating to find that your previously perfectly positioned teeth have shifted a few months or even years post-treatment. This movement is called orthodontic relapse and is what causes as many as one in five adults to seek out orthodontic treatment.

Causes of orthodontic relapses

Orthodontic treatment does as much as possible to permanently change your smile, but it simply can’t correct the ligaments that connect your teeth to your jawbone. Often, these ligaments start pulling and moving teeth after your treatment is complete, causing them to shift back into pre-treatment positions. The following are the most common causes of orthodontic relapse:

Incomplete orthodontic treatment

Orthodontic treatment requires commitment if you want to achieve the desired outcome. There may be changes in the teeth or gums that can directly affect the result of treatment, so it’s essential to show up to every appointment and not rush the process or your orthodontist. The most common reason for most relapse cases is incomplete treatment, including not wearing your retainers as directed. This step is still part of your personalized treatment plan from your orthodontist. 

Bruxism and tooth loss

Patients suffering from chronic tooth grinding, or bruxism, place a lot of stress on their teeth, and this continuous force and movement can lead to shifting to allow for an unnatural bite. Wearing your retainer or a mouthguard can mitigate many of the adjustments caused by grinding your teeth. 

Trauma, tooth decay, and gum disease like gingivitis can lead to tooth loss or teeth needing to be removed entirely. With the extra space in your gums, the surrounding teeth will begin to shift and lead to misalignment of the teeth and bite. The best way to avoid this type of relapse is simply to maintain good oral hygiene habits before, during, and after orthodontic treatment. 

Bad habits and noncompliance

Our compassionate team here at Lake Jackson Orthodontics knows how busy life can get and how easy it can be to forget to brush your teeth or overindulge in the things we know don’t benefit us. While not brushing your teeth one night before bed won’t cause your smile to suddenly misalign, getting into bad habits like not flossing regularly, eating hard sugary candies, smoking, and missing dental appointments can cause the damage that can lead to relapse and need for retreatment. Poor oral health can also lead to gum problems that cause erosion of tooth enamel and even tooth loss, as previously discussed.

Retreatment options

While an orthodontic relapse may not be an emergency, consult your orthodontist soon after you notice the shifting or misalignment. Sometimes, our Lake Jackson Orthodontics team will monitor your teeth’s movement as you get back in the habit of wearing your retainer, and those teeth fall back in line. Some patients stop using their post-treatment retainer because their teeth have shifted just enough for their retainer to no longer fit. For these patients, we can prescribe new retainers with a basic scan of your teeth’ current position to get you back on track. Patients with severe shifting benefit best from often brief retreatment with one of the following standard options.

Metal braces

Though they have been around the longest, they have come a long way over the decades. Today’s metal braces are smaller, lighter, and more comfortable than ever.

Clear braces

Using the same technology as metal braces, clear braces swap the metal brackets for clear or tooth-colored ceramic, making them much less noticeable than their traditional counterparts. Some patients even like using colored elastics with clear braces to give them a neon glow that matches their personality.


Invisalign takes a modern approach to straightening your teeth. It uses a custom-made series of aligners created for you and only you, much like your retainers from your previous orthodontic treatment. These aligners will gently move your teeth little by little, based on the exact movements Dr. McGrory plans for you, without anyone knowing it’s happening. 

No matter your “Why,” – Ask Lake Jackson Orthodontics, “How?” for your retreatment 

After all the hard work and dedication you’ve put into your smile over the years, you deserve to be able to let it shine for years to come! Don’t hide it; let Lake Jackson Orthodontics show you how easy it can be to realign your smile and confidence. Most patients find that retreatment times are often far quicker than anticipated, so schedule your FREE consultation with our expert team in Jackson, TX, today to get your retreatment started!