Can I wear a retainer that I have not worn for three years?

Q. Will a three-year-old retainer still fit?

Answered by
Dr. Mayank Khandelwal
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Aug 27, 2022 and last reviewed on: Jul 26, 2023

Hello doctor,

I have not worn my retainer for three years because I missed my appointment, and now they threw it away. My teeth have shifted, but I still have a straight smile. However, I am concerned about how my bite will change in the long run. Once, the doctor offered an option that he would mold my current teeth so that they could be my retainer, and now I am wondering if that is a safe option to consider.



Welcome to

I read your query and can understand your concern. Retainers after orthodontic treatment are an essential part of therapy as they maintain and hold on to the changes achieved by the treatment. In addition, they prevent the teeth and other surrounding tissues from returning to previous positions (relapse). Therefore, it is advised to wear a full-time retainer for at least one year after orthodontic treatment, followed by gradual tapering of retainers to eventually no retainers (applies in most cases except where the permanent retainer is advised). As a result, the tissues mature in new positions within one year, and relapses to previous stages are reduced. Coming to your query, you could not get the retainers for whatsoever reason, and now, it has been three years. Whatever significant changes that were supposed to happen should have happened by now. It will now be primarily age-related changes that should occur. As you mentioned, your smile is still maintained, similar to when the treatment ended, which is a good sign. In my opinion, in the long run, we should not see much of changes, but still, we should opt for retainers at the current stage for at least six months on full-time wear, followed by a gradual reduction to no wear in the next six months (total of 12-month wear). Regarding current stage mold as retainers, these are called essix retainers which are made of thermoplastic material. First, the current stage dentition is recorded (impression or digital scan), and the thermoplastic sheet is adapted. After adaptation, the sheet is trimmed, and finishing is done to eliminate sharp edges. And these work as retainers for the patient. You can surely opt for this option without any hesitation. They are safe and work well. Follow certain instructions related to its usage and care, and everything should be fine.

Was this answer helpful?


Same symptoms doesn’t mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Related Questions:
I have large buck teeth and triangular gap between rows. Do I need braces?

I was wondering with the information provided above, do you think I need braces, a retainer, or Invisalign ... Retainer and Invisalign almost serve the same purpose of maintaining the moved or co   Read full

I had my braces off before a month. Is it necessary to wear retainer to maintain alignment?

Hi doctor, I am just wondering if retainers can be used to realign teeth ... Once the braces are removed, you have to wear the retainers for at least eight months ...   Read full

Does having an Essix retainer on upper front teeth affect other teeth badly?

Hello doctor, My essix retainer only covers my front upper six teeth ... Does having a retainer only on those teeth affect other teeth badly ...   Read full

Also Read Answers From:

ideaComprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Also Read

PCOS and Liver Problems
The hormonal imbalances in polycystic ovary syndrome could cause liver diseases. Read the article to know the relationship between these medical conditions.  Read more»
Inferior Alveolar Nerve Lateralization Technique
The inferior alveolar nerve lateralization technique is a surgical lateralization technique to reposition the nerve. Read the article to know more about this.  Read more»
COVID-19 and Ebola: Similarities and Differences
This article gives a comparison and broader overview of the outbreak of the two deadliest diseases that showed a greater incidence over the last two decades.  Read more»

Ask your health query to a doctor online?

Ask an Orthodontist Now

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.