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After orthodontic treatment, it’s not uncommon to feel like your teeth are shifting as there is a process called settling which needs to occur. Teeth are housed in the bone and are connected to the bone by something called the periodontal ligament. During treatment, the ligaments are stretched and remodelled so it takes several months after being finished for the ligaments to fully adjust and for the teeth to finish shifting and find their new position. As an aside, this is why teeth are often more mobile and loose during orthodontic treatment. This is temporary and teeth should return to their previous mobility, assuming there is no bone loss or root resorption, once treatment is done.

There are a number of retainer options available and this is covered on our website. Lingual bonded (or fixed) retainers tend to keep teeth in a more rigid position but can break quite easily (especially on the top) and require a significant oral hygiene commitment. Removable retainers tend to allow for more settling of the teeth – Essix retainers generally tend to keep teeth more in position than Hawley retainers. Regardless, it is normal to expect teeth to shift less than 1mm. Again, this is a reflection of the natural settling process and should be expected.

That being said, if you feel your teeth are shifting, we have developed this blog post to help guide you through some questions to ask.


What Options Are There To Help With Teeth Shifting? 


Firstly – you should never have just lingual bonded retainers. A lot of people think that by having glued wires behind their teeth that they will stay straight forever. This is not true. Lingual bonded retainers can easily break and oftentimes, this is not easily perceived or felt. If the glue becomes detached from a tooth, you may not know. In this case, a tooth can start to shift. Sometimes, when inserted, the lingual bonded retainer can be active and can slowly deliver force to a tooth over time, causing it to shift. For this reason, we ALWAYS recommend having a removable retainer that fits on top of lingual bonded retainers. Even if the removable retainers are not worn every single night, just wearing them a few nights a week should keep the teeth in position. If the lingual bonded retainer is broken, the removable retainer will keep the teeth straight. Therefore, our first suggestion is to put on your removable retainer and see how it fits. 

After putting on the removable retainer, it may be tight (which means your teeth have shifted) and that is OK. If it does not fit at all, your teeth have likely shifted a lot and you will require an appointment with your orthodontist. That being said, if it fits and is tight, consider wearing the removable retainer full time for a few weeks. It will act like an aligner and push your teeth back to the position in the retainer. After the teeth are back in position, you should probably wear your retainer most nights to keep them in place as your teeth clearly want to shift.


Do I Need a Retainer To Avoid My Teeth Shifting?


A small percentage of people do not require retainers. Their teeth will not shift after orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing who this small group is – so that is why we recommend retainers for everyone. It is possible that over time you can wean down wear and see what happens. Regardless, most people’s teeth will want to shift without retainers so that is why we provide them to everyone and recommend they be worn.

If after full-time wear of your removable retainer, if you feel like your teeth have not returned to normal, you should probably call your orthodontist. They may be able to make an adjustment to the retainer (such as adding a dimple) to help nudge a tooth back. If you have lingual bonded retainers and your teeth have shifted make sure to get your orthodontist to check the glue to make sure it is still intact.

Another consideration is the age of the removable retainer. If it is old, it may have been stretched and worn down over time. If this is the case, getting a brand new retainer may help move the teeth back. If you were initially scanned for your retainer, chances are there is a digital file saved. If this is the case, the replica of your teeth in the straight position can be fabricated through 3D printing and a new retainer fabricated. The new retainer can also act as a fresh aligner and push your teeth back.


How To Prevent Needing Additional Treatment


To prevent your teeth from shifting the simplest solution is to wear your retainers! We always recommend having a backup set in case your retainers break or get lost – hence we developed our Digital Retainer Program

If you have any questions about retainers, or teeth shifting after treatment, or any other general inquiries for bookings and appointments, please contact our office for more information.

In-Person Consultation

Use our handy online scheduler below to choose the date and time that works best for your initial complimentary consultation appointment!

Please note that while initial orthodontic consultations are complimentary, if you recently completed orthodontic treatment or currently are in active appliances with another provider, seeking a replacement/repair for a retainer, or looking to schedule a second consult after your initial one there is a fee for the consultation. Please contact us for more information.

Alternatively, please contact our office directly by phone/text if you are trying to book multiple consultations at the same time or are seeking consultation further out than 12 weeks.

Please note – If none of the available times on our online scheduler work for you we do have other consultation times available. Please contact us directly for more information.

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When it comes to financing there’s no one size fits all solution. Likewise, there is no singular solution when it comes to financing. At LendCare, we get that and go deeper to understand your unique story and offer flexible options that work best for you, given your current financial situation. That means you get affordable financing, even if your credit is anything but top-tier.

Walt Orthodontics is pleased to offer interest-free payments up to 30 months. If you require payments over 30 months we are happy to offer the LendCare solution.


Dr. Walt received his dental (DDS) degree from the University of Western Ontario, graduating first in his class and receiving the Gold Medal as well as numerous awards recognizing his scholastic and clinical achievements, leadership and character. He then completed his orthodontic training at the University of Colorado, where he received both his Specialty Certificate and Master of Science Degree. During his residency, he was awarded the Rocky Mountain Orthodontics Scholarship for overall excellence.

After graduating from residency and opening Walt Orthodontics in 2013, Dr. Walt committed himself to applying his traditional orthodontic education into the digital world to improve clinical outcomes and patient experience. He currently serves as a Faculty Member, Key Opinion Leader, and Advisory Board Member for Align Technology which involves traveling around the world to teach other orthodontists about Invisalign. Being at the forefront of digital orthodontics, Dr. Walt was invited to be the first orthodontist in Canada to use custom LightForce braces. He also serves as an Orthodontic Coach/Mentor for other orthodontists looking to improve their knowledge of digital orthodontics.

In addition to practicing orthodontics, Dr. Walt is a “die-hard” Blue Jays fan and enjoys working out in his spare time.


Dr. Stephanie Grossman pursued her dental degree in sunny South Florida at Nova Southeastern University. She graduated with honours, at the top of her class, and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honour Society. She then completed her orthodontic training at the University of Detroit Mercy, where she received both a Specialty Certificate in Orthodontics and a Master of Science degree. She is both a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics and a Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada.

Dr. Grossman strives to provide the highest standard of orthodontic care for her patients. She attends numerous hours of continuing education and utilizes the latest advancements in orthodontics. Dr. Grossman is licensed to practice in both the United States and Canada.

Outside of the clinic, Dr. Grossman enjoys spending time with her friends and family and traveling the world. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and loves trying new restaurants!