Invisalign can feel like a magical orthodontic treatment. You get to straighten your teeth without anyone knowing about it, thanks to the practically invisible aligners, and the alignment process usually takes less time than traditional metal braces. However, dedicating yourself to a complete Invisalign treatment includes an insurance policy that makes sure the straightening sticks – retainers. And if you choose not to wear your retainers your Invisalign treatment will have been a waste of time.
Why Are Retainers So Important?
After nine months or a year of Invisalign treatment, give or take, your orthodontic journey is not over. If you want your teeth to stay in the new locations to which they have just shifted, it’s essential that you wear your retainer as your Invisalign provider has instructed.
The job of a retainer is to help stabilize the new positions that your teeth are in and keep your teeth there. After all, you just spent several months dedicated to wearing and tending to your customized Invisalign aligners so your smile moved into alignment. This is a big deal! But remember that your teeth have had new bone deposited around them during these movements, and your teeth must have time to solidify in their new position. Your retainers have the important job for many months and years to come of making sure your teeth stay where they’re supposed to. If you want your new straight smile to be permanent, retainers must be worn and stay in rotation.
The Retainer Schedule
Some Invisalign patients will be told to continue wearing their last set of Invisalign aligners for a little longer than the typical two-week wear time (and you thought cleaning those Invisalign aligners wasn’t important?) so the aligners can act as a retainer until your real retainers are ready.
There are a few different options for retainers. Permanent retainers are often a possibility for both upper and lower teeth – these retainers can be attached behind the teeth so they’re unnoticeable and still doing the important job of keeping your newly straightened teeth in alignment.
There will be Invisalign patients who discover they only need to wear their retainers around the clock for six to 12 months before their dentist allows them to wear the retainers only while sleeping. At that point, the instruction may be to wear the retainers every night for another six months, and then several nights a week every week – forever. In the grand scheme of things, retainers are a mild inconvenience for a smile that is in alignment, comfortable, and gorgeous.
Don’t Shun Your Retainers After Invisalign
If you’ve had it with orthodontia after months of Invisalign treatment and choose to shun retainers entirely, know that you will regret this action. It’s understandable that after such dedication to the nearly invisible aligners and near-constant wear you are completely over the idea of having something on your teeth, but without retainers your teeth can shift right back into their former crooked position. And all that Invisalign effort will have been a waste of time, money, and energy.
And keep in mind that retainers are removable, just like Invisalign. This is a huge perk when it comes to still enjoying all the foods you love. You can also get nearly invisible retainers – often clear Vivera retainers are the weapon of choice for Invisalign providers for their strength and durability and similarity to Invisalign. But, just like your orthodontic hardware, retainers do require proper maintenance and cleaning so that they remain entirely clear and unnoticed on your teeth.
Have questions about whether Invisalign is right for you? Talk to Dr. Carole Sherrod Jewell, a certified Invisalign provider at Red Bank Dentistry, to get answers to all of your Invisalign questions and concerns about retainers after Invisalign.