Retreatment Options for Adults

So you used to have braces, but your smile isn’t as straight as it used to be — this story is more common than you might think! You’re not alone if your teeth have shifted out of line over the years. For many patients who had braces in their teens, orthodontic treatment hasn’t been a linear process, and their smile isn’t the same smile they used to love seeing in the mirror. Orthodontic relapse may be a common issue for many adults, but fortunately, many retreatment options are available for you. 

At Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics, we believe that sometimes the second time’s the charm. If you’re looking for a straight tooth reboot, our experienced team knows just how to turn that smile back around. Keep reading to learn more about what we can do to get your smile back on track. 

Why Did My Smile Shift? 

Treatment in Two Parts 

If we ask you to think about orthodontic treatment, you probably think about a mouth full of braces. Maybe you picture a series of clear aligners like Invisalign. What you probably aren’t imagining is a retainer, which is why many people face second-round treatment. 

Contrary to popular belief, orthodontic treatment doesn’t end when your braces come off. Usually, treatment comes in two parts: active treatment and retention. Active treatment includes the duration of time you spend wearing your braces or clear aligners. Retention begins when active treatment ends. 

Orthodontic Relapse

The retention phase of orthodontics is just as important as active treatment. When your braces finally come off, your teeth may shift slightly without the appliance there to hold them in place. This natural process is called orthodontic relapse, and at Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics, we do our best to prevent it as much as possible. 

Short-term relapse: This type of orthodontic relapse is most likely to occur soon after we remove your braces. If your teeth shift less than one year after orthodontic treatment is complete, you’re experiencing a short-term relapse. 

Long-term relapse: This type of orthodontic relapse happens long after you’ve finished treatment. If your teeth begin to appear crooked a year or more after treatment, you’re experiencing a long-term relapse. 

Wearing your retainer is a huge part of avoiding orthodontic relapse! Whether removable or permanent, these appliances play a major factor in how straight your teeth remain once treatment brings them to a baseline. 

Without wearing your retainer as instructed by your orthodontist, your teeth will likely shift into their original positions over time. In some cases, they can shift in as little as a few days; in some cases, it takes years. Either way, you may need a second round of treatment to pull them back into line to give you a straight smile you’ll love. 

Retreatment Options for Adults

Treatment Options

Watching your teeth slowly shift back to their old positions can be upsetting, but our Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics team is here to help. There are several potential treatment routes to ease your smile back in shape. 

New Retainer

If you’re dealing with a short-term or minor relapse, a new retainer may set your teeth straight again! With only slight movement, your teeth are usually close enough to straight that minor adjustments can fix the problem quickly.  

If you’ve lost your retainer or if your old one no longer works, Dr. Cowan or Dr. Whitaker can custom-design a new retainer to shift your teeth in line. If your bottom teeth are the issue, we might recommend a fixed retainer. 


If you’re dealing with long-term or major relapse, your best treatment method is a second round of braces or Invisalign. Don’t let that thought scare you! Because you’ve already had braces, you’ll enjoy a shorter treatment duration. 

You’ll also be in good company: one in five orthodontic patients is over the age of 18. With modern technology at work, Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics offers the most comfortable and discreet treatment options available, including: 

Metal Braces: This treatment method is excellent for patients with moderate to severe orthodontic issues. They’re a durable and reliable option that ensures your treatment runs smoothly and effectively. With a system of brackets and wires, these braces straighten your teeth by applying constant, gentle pressure.  

Clear Braces: Like metal braces, this treatment option uses a system of brackets and wires to straighten your teeth and is effective for patients with moderate to severe orthodontic issues. Instead of metal braces, however, clear braces use white ceramic brackets that match the color of your teeth, so your treatment is less visible. 

Invisalign: Our Invisalign treatment is a great option for adult patients looking to straighten their smile without the bulky brackets and wires of braces. Using a series of clear aligner trays custom-made to fit your unique smile, Invisalign straightens your teeth with comfort and ease. 

Retreatment Options for Adults

Reboot Your Smile at Cowan & Whitaker Orthodontics

Our team in Tuscaloosa believes everyone deserves a straight and happy smile, even if you need a second round of treatment! With a wide range of options to choose from and two experienced orthodontists, we’ve got you covered. 

If you’re ready to reboot your smile, schedule your free consultation today!