After months of discipline and sacrifice, you’ve reached the end of your clear aligner treatment. You cut down on snacks, carried a toothbrush with you at all times, and endured the pain and discomfort that comes with the smile journey. You can kiss those cold plastic trays goodbye and toss your accessories kit into the trash can, because you’ll never have to wear clear braces again, right?!? We hate to burst your bubble but...it's not true.
Well...it’s partly true. You’ll probably never have to wear your aligners again during the daytime. That means no more coffee through a straw, or skipping the afternoon cake break, or learning how to say “yes please” without a total lisp. But if you want to keep it that way, you should wear your clear retainers at night for as you want your clear aligner results to last. In fact, some of you may have gotten clear aligners because you stopped wearing your retainer after having braces as a kid. So you know what we’re talking about.
Unfortunately, there’s no way around it. Retainers “retain” your teeth in their new position. If you don’t wear them, they’ll slowly move back and out of alignment. When you align your teeth with clear braces, you are changing the direction of the elastic fibers within your gums that position your teeth, just like weightlifting rebuilds and reshapes your muscle fibers. Retainers ensure those fibers won’t forget everything they learned over the past 6-12 months and revert to their old ways.
In fact, according to a review of several blog posts related to retention, studies done at the University of Washington on the stability of orthodontic treatment found “unacceptable relapse in about 70% of patients who wore their retainers for only one to two years” after completing their treatment. When the same studies were replicated with patients who wore retainers for life, the degree of unacceptable relapse dropped below 10%.
But that doesn’t mean retainer pains for life! It just means you have to be smart about managing your new smile. Why should it be any different from your home, your car, or your wardrobe? In fact, retainers are such a part of the smile journey that many at-home clear aligner providers are beginning to include them as part of their treatment packages.
You must treat your retainers as protection of the time and money invested into your Invisalign treatment. But it's not all bad. Here are four benefits to wearing a retainer after your orthodontic treatment.
More Effective Chewing
One of the unexpected complaints about straightening your teeth with clear braces is how much your bite changes during the process. It is an annoyance that goes away once your alignment has concluded, but is one of the first things to recur when retainers aren’t worn with diligence.
So if you don’t want that awkward feeling when you’re trying to enjoy your next amazing dinner, wear the retainers.
Cleaner Teeth and Healthier Smile
Straightening your teeth with invisible braces isn’t just about the glamour of a perfect smile. It’s also a benefit for your overall health and hygiene. Straight teeth are easier to clean and keep clean, because your brushing is more effective. Wearing night time retainers can also motivate you to keep up those healthy habits you may have developed during the smile journey, like brushing after meals and flossing every night. Because nobody wants to go to sleep with plastic on their teeth and food in between.
Whiter Teeth For The Win
Your clear retainers are an excellent medium for whitening your teeth. Not only do they compel you to maintain those healthy hygiene habits, they are a perfect delivery method for EverSmile WhiteFoam.
You may have used this miracle potion during your treatment, so why stop now? Put a pump of WhiteFoam on each tray before you retire for the night, and let the dual-action formula clean those retainers while it whitens your teeth!
General Protection and Prevention
Retainers can protect against a common issue that many adults face, which is grinding of the teeth at night. Bruxism, as it’s known in the medical community, can result from changes in your bite pattern or increases in daily stress or anxiety. Wearing retainers will protect your teeth from any grinding that does occur and help you avoid such symptoms as neck and jaw pain or worse, excessive wearing down of your teeth.
Additionally, according to the American Diabetes Association and the International Journal of Dentistry, “people who correctly use their retainers are able to dramatically decrease the chance of poor oral health.” Research shows that poor oral health may increase the chances of developing diabetes, so wearing retainers not only maintains oral health but can lessen your chances of diabetes too!
Facial Fitness & Impulse Control
Remember all those chewing exercises you did during the smile journey to tighten your trays and relieve pain? You’ll still be able to do them with your clear retainers, which means you’ll keep that strong jawline and facial definition created by these important exercises. You can hang onto those chewies, or try Movemints clear aligner mints to freshen breath, especially if you want to keep your pre-sleep options open for a different type of fitness….
Maybe you also miss the clear aligner diet? Or you are reverting back to your pre-bedtime snacking ways? You can always put your retainers in a few hours before bedtime if you feel the urge to snack. The encumbrance of inserting and reinserting the invisible retainers may be just enough friction to deter your impulse to snack.
Don’t Walk Back on Your Smile Journey...
Make retainers part of your lifelong routine! When you’re teeth are as straight five years from now as they are the day after your completion, you’ll be glad you did. Got any tips for the clear retainer lifestyle? Add them in the comments section, we love to hear from you!