How Can I Keep My Teeth Straight After My Invisalign Treatment?

Whether you’ve been wearing your Invisalign® clear aligners for six months or two years, you couldn’t be more excited that you’ve reached the end of your treatment plan. You’ve worked hard to attain straighter teeth, a perfectly aligned bite, and a beautiful smile, and you want to keep it that way. 

When your orthodontic treatment plan is finished, it’s time to think about retention. Why? After months of gentle, applied pressure, your partially softened bone tissue leaves your teeth vulnerable to relapse — or unwanted, drifting movement back to their old positions.  

At American Dental Clinic, Emmanuel Aguilar, DMD, and his team of certified Invisalign providers have improved countless smiles with Invisalign. Here, they explain how wearing a retainer keeps your teeth straight post-treatment and what you can expect along the way. 

Post-treatment retention to prevent relapse 

To fully grasp why wearing a retainer is such a crucial part of your orthodontic after-care, it’s helpful to understand what happens when Invisalign repositions your teeth.  

Stretching periodontal ligaments

Each tooth root is surrounded and supported by a fibrous membrane called the periodontal ligament. Resilient yet malleable, this tissue connects each tooth to its surrounding jawbone. As the gently applied pressure of orthodontic treatment gradually shifts your teeth in their sockets, their periodontal ligaments stretch on one side and compress on the other.

Spongier softened bone tissue

Your bone tissue also softens and becomes spongier to accommodate your shifting teeth. Once your teeth reach their new position, their periodontal ligaments readjust, and new bone tissue fills the gap around the socket to help your teeth maintain proper alignment. 

Support for rebuilding bone tissues

Wearing a retainer after your aligners come off gives your underlying bone tissue the support it needs to rebuild and hold your teeth more firmly in their new, correct positions. Without a set period of retainer wear, your teeth would quickly shift back out of alignment.   

Love your new smile? Keep it with a retainer

Your teeth are most prone to relapse during the first year following your Invisalign treatment, particularly in the first few months. Although your personal retainer wear instructions depend on your specific case, you can expect two distinct periods of retainer wear:

Early, intensive retainer wear

For at least the first six months after you complete your Invisalign treatment, you should wear your custom, removable retainers (which look just like a final set of clear aligners) for at least 22 hours a day — or the same amount of time you wore each aligner during your orthodontic treatment. 

At the six-month mark, our team evaluates your teeth to ensure they’re stable and they’ve maintained their position. At this point, we may recommend a further three to six months of round-the-clock retainer wear, or we may clear you to move on to the maintenance phase. 

Long-term maintenance retainer wear  

After six to 12 months of intensive retainer wear, it’s time to move on to the maintenance phase. With long-term retainer wear — which you continue indefinitely — you only wear your retainer at night, as you sleep. 

 Lifelong, nighttime retainer wear usually begins with consistent nightly wear and eventually tapers to frequent, consistent wear. This means that at some point, you may only need to wear your retainer three to five nights a week to maintain your Invisalign results.   

Comfortable, effective, and long-lasting 

While there is a wide range of retainer types to choose from following orthodontic treatment, our team recommends Vivera® clear retainers to preserve your Invisalign results. 

Made by the same company that creates Invisalign aligners, Vivera clear retainers are 30% stronger and two times more durable than other clear retainers. They’re also custom-fitted to your teeth and made with optimal comfort in mind — just like the aligners that gave you your new smile. 

Vivera clear retainers come in packs of multiple sets, so you won’t have to worry about going without a retainer if you misplace a set. You can expect your retainers to last ten years or longer with proper care.    

Do you have questions about retainer wear following Invisalign? We have answers. Just call our San Diego, California office at 858-215-2951 or use the online scheduler to make your appointment anytime!

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