How Long Do I Have to Wear Retainers After Invisalign?
After months of discipline and sacrifice, you’ve finished with clear aligners! You can kiss those cold plastic trays goodbye because you’ll never have to wear clear braces again, right?!?
We hate to burst your bubble.
If you like your new smile and you want to keep it that way, you must wear your Invisalign retainer for as long as you want your results to last. There's just no way around it.
You see, retainers “retain” your teeth in their new position. If you don’t wear them, they’ll slowly move back and out of alignment. This treatment means you are changing the direction of elastic fibers within your gums, just like weightlifting reshapes your muscle fibers. Retainers ensure those fibers won’t forget everything they learned over the past 6-12 months.
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 an important part of the smile journey that many at-home clear aligner providers are beginning to include them as part of their treatment packages.
Read: Five Cute Retainer Cases for Your Smile Journey
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.
If you don't retain your new teeth alignment, your teeth will come together strangeley when you eat food, so if you don’t want that awkward feeling during your next 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!
Welp, I’m 49 and I’m wearing Invisalign even though I had braces as a teen. We were told you only had to wear your retainer nightly for the first year and then you were golden. No. Nope. Nuh uh. My teeth shifted A LOT and I really started to notice it in my 40s when my bottom teeth shifted and created crowding and gaps and I constantly had food stuck where it never used to get stuck before. The ortho said that the basework that was done in my teens was still there but I had shifting which was natural due to aging. I only wish I had been told differently all those years ago, I probably wouldn’t be in this mess! Wear your retainers, everyone! My current ortho said that as long as I have natural teeth in my mouth I will need to wear a retainer to some degree.
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