It’s been years since you had your braces removed. You can’t remember when you last wore your retainer. For the most part, everything’s been going swell—you finally have the smile of your dreams, with all straight teeth and pearly white. But then, something happens. After years of sludging through orthodontic treatment, you start to find gaps in your teeth and other signs of misaligned teeth. But all is not lost—you eventually recover your old retainer, which considering everything still seems to be in good shape. But can you wear an old retainer to straighten teeth?
Reusing something from the past does have its caveats. And while this can apply to things like old clothes, it might not sit well with the implements you use for orthodontic treatment. For one, there’s the issue of cleanliness. That retainer you used x years ago might still have the remnants of dental plaque that’s hardened over the years. Then there’s whether wearing an old retainer to straighten teeth might do more harm than good.
Orthodontic treatment—retainers included—can be pretty costly, so it’s no surprise most people would consider wearing an old retainer to straighten teeth. And if you’re suffering from mild misalignment issues, it could sort out the problem.
So, can you wear an old retainer to straighten teeth?
The case for wearing old retainers
Typically, during orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will advise you to wear a retainer after getting your braces removed. Braces, after all, bring your teeth into their proper positions by applying a steady pressure onto the teeth. This helps them move through the jawbone until they’re in the right places.
The opposite can be true, however. To counteract any forces that misalign your teeth, your orthodontist will prescribe a special retainer to keep those straight teeth.
For the most part, you’ll be asked to wear them for at least a year. In some cases, a little longer. You eventually outgrow your retainers over time—particularly once your straight teeth are assured for life. Sometimes, however, some misalignment returns after a while. Whether it’s because of poor dental care practices, missing teeth, or impacted wisdom teeth, you might find your straight teeth turning a little crooked then.
If you find yourself suffering from mild misalignment, however, maybe wearing an old retainer shouldn’t be a problem as long as it still fits.
Can you wear an old retainer to straighten teeth?
So let’s say your old retainer still works. After clearing any icky dental decay, you’ve decided to skimp on the orthodontic treatment and the long wait before you can get your braces removed. But can wearing an old retainer to straighten teeth work?
As it turns out, yes, it can. Retainers aren’t just there to keep your teeth in place, after all. Because they’re custom made, they can also help improve any minor oral problems you might find years after you had your braces removed. It’s also a great way to save up on the extra money, although you might still schedule an appointment with your dentist to see if it’s a viable option.