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

Will a three-year-old retainer still fit?

The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At August 27, 2022
Reviewed AtJuly 26, 2023

Patient's Query

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 icliniq.com.

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.

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Mayank Khandelwal
Dr. Mayank Khandelwal


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