What Happens If You Don’t Wear Your Retainer?

by | Apr 19, 2021 | Retainers | 0 comments

6 min reading time

The long-expected day of finally letting go of your braces is at hand, and the atmosphere couldn’t be merrier. After years of abiding by a strict orthodontic treatment, you are ready to have your braces removed and show the smile of your dreams to the world. However, is this the end of your treatment? Will your perfect smile last without any additional help? Or is there something more to it?

Perfect smiles require many years of care and dedication to maintain their shine, which is why orthodontic treatments extend further than wearing braces. Solid dental care, coupled with wearing a retainer, are your best allies in the quest to keep your dream smile intact. Without them, your orthodontic treatment results will gradually wear off, undoing all the previous hard work.

After years of wearing braces, the last thing that comes to mind is continuing your orthodontic treatment, and we couldn’t agree with you more. However, here at Loudoun Orthodontics, our mission is to deliver not only perfect smiles but also perfect smiles that last a lifetime. For that reason, continuing your orthodontic treatment after removing braces is a sine qua non requisite, and the ideal place to begin is wearing your prescribed retainer? “But what happens if I don’t wear my retainer?” Today’s blog will shed some light on the adverse effects of not wearing a retainer after removing braces.

Why You Need to Wear Your Retainer as Prescribed

The time immediately after the removal of your braces counts the most in your orthodontic treatment. Your teeth have excellent long-term memory, which is why they will not hesitate to return to their original spots once the braces are removed.

Also known as the retention phase, the first few days and weeks without braces call for assistance to keep your teeth in line, and the best way to achieve that is by using a retainer, a device specifically prescribed for this purpose.

Although mildly uncomfortable in the beginning, the retainer is your best ally against the tooth’s natural tendency to return to its original position. You shouldn’t fall prey to panic if you forget to wear it for a few hours or a whole day. However, the interruption of your retainer regimen for a prolonged time can put your orthodontic treatment results in jeopardy, ultimately calling for a new treatment with braces. For observing how retainers complement orthodontic treatments, we’ve put together a timetable containing the most dramatic changes that can occur to your teeth when you’re not wearing your prescribed retainer:

What Happens When You Don’t Wear Your Retainer

 #1: After One Week

During the first week of your retention phase, your teeth will already begin to move back to their original places, although the speed of this process differs from patient to patient. For that reason, wearing your 22-24 hours a day is essential. Otherwise, relapses or tooth shifting, small spaces, and slight rotations might already occur.

#2: After One Month

One month after not using your prescribed retainer, your teeth will further retreat to their original position and cause changes in your bite. At this point, your retainer will no longer have the exact alignment as your teeth, which is why scheduling an appointment with your orthodontist is necessary since they will have to prescribe a new retainer for you. To catch up on your progress, your orthodontist will recommend that you wear your retainer for an extended time, both during the night and the day.

#3: After One Year

After one year without wearing your retainer, the teeth will have had enough time to return to their original spots and, in some instances, become crooked. Now, the only tangible solution for your dental goals is to restart your orthodontic treatment from the bottom with braces. The arduous work of tooth straightening can be undone in a moment, which is why we urge you to take action while concrete solutions are on the horizon.

Tips for Wearing a Retainer after Not Using It

While some people are good at repetitive tasks and remember to brush their teeth three times a day or floss appropriately every single day, others find it challenging to become accustomed to their new retainer. If you fall in the latter category, believe us, you’re not the only one! What you need is something to remind you of your retainer constantly. For starters, we have a couple of good, practical suggestions:

  • Set alerts on your phone: an acoustic alert, accompanied by a suggestive message, can help you put on and remove the retainer at designated times.
  • Place notes around the house: what do the wardrobe, the fridge, and the mirror have in common? Lots of space for Post-it notes to remind you of your retainer!
  • Choose an accountabilibuddywhether it is your best friend, your boyfriend/girlfriend, or simply someone who wants to see your perfect smile, benefiting from the help of someone who can constantly remind you of your retainer is essential, especially until you become accustomed to your retainer.

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Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if you think that retainers may be a solution to your child’s dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of retainers or simply have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (703) 858-0303 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a free consultation! Our office, located at 19465 Deerfield Ave, Suite 304, Leesburg, VA 20176, proudly serves not just Loudoun County but also the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Ashburn, Lansdowne, or Sterling, and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Virginia, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health, and follow us on social media to become a part of our smiling community!


  1. https://sandiegokidsdentist.com/blog/what-happens-if-you-dont-wear-your-retainer/
  2. http://sageorthodontics.com/2019/08/02/49024-orthodontist-what-happens-if-i-dont-wear-my-retainer/
  3. https://www.shirckorthodontics.com/blog/what-happens-if-you-forget-to-wear-your-retainer/
  4. https://www.perfectsmilesareus.com/blog/what-happens-to-your-teeth-if-you-dont-wear-your-retainer-as-prescribed