My teeth have moved…can I have them re-straightened?


ID-10025700Some former patients return to us after orthodontic treatment with a deterioration in the appearance of their teeth. This may present as crookedness of teeth or as gaps opening up. The term for this is “relapse”.

Early management is key… the sooner relapse is caught, the simpler it is to correct.

So why does this happen and what options are available?

Causes of orthodontic relapse

Very minor movements of teeth are unavoidable, even with the best retention wear in the world. The tissues that support teeth (the bone and gums) change over time, retainers become slightly distorted over time…as with any aspect of dealing with biological systems such as the human body, there are no absolutes, no 100% guarantees. We ensure that this is made clear in our consent procedures at the start of treatment.

Relapse is usually seen in patients who have stopped wearing their retainers on a regular basis or are wearing retainers that are distorted or broken. If regular wear stops less than 12 months after braces were removed, the supporting tissues may not have had time to stabilise…and relapse occurs.

If regular wear stops after 12 months, continued jaw growth may contribute towards relapse. In fact, crowding of teeth occurs throughout life whether people have had braces or not.

Current research suggests that wisdom teeth do NOT cause crowding of the front teeth.

What options are available?

1. Keep under review

If only minor movements have occurred and retainers are been maintained and worn well, no intervention may be necessary…but we would be able to keep your teeth under observation by reviewing you in a few months.

2. Provide new retainers

This will stabilise the situation thereby preventing any worsening of the relapse. There will be a charge for replacement retainers.

3. Re-treatment

If a re-treatment is to be considered, a detailed assessment will be made including taking x-rays, models and photographs of the teeth. It is important to counsel our patients on the importance of consistent retainer wear after a re-treatment so that relapse does not occur a second time.

Options for re-treatment include:

  • Simple aligner treatment: for minor movements
  • Sectional fixed brace: placed on the front 6 teeth only: available in white ceramic
  • Full fixed braces

The approach taken will depend on the extent of the relapse and how many teeth are involved. Severe relapse may even require further extractions.

Your orthodontist will discuss the costs of providing your re-treatment.

So if your teeth are starting to move after a course of orthodontic treatment, it is best to get this looked at asap so that we can prevent any further relapse and provide any necessary corrective treatment.

About Cleveland Orthodontics

Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East, including Middlesbrough, Darlington, Durham, Peterlee, Sedgefield and Hartlepool.

We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available…you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.


Image courtesy of Michal Marcol /