What to Do After Your Invisalign Treatment Ends

January 28, 2019
Carly A. Moran, DDS, MS

It’s an exciting moment when you realize you are removing your very last set of Invisalign aligners and reveal your brand new smile, knowing you won’t be receiving another set of aligners at your next office visit. While your last set of aligners marks the end of your formal Invisalign treatment, there is a little bit more work to do in order to ensure your healthy smile lasts for a lifetime.

What to Do After Your Invisalign Treatment Ends

The Retention Phase

After the orthodontic treatment phase, you enter the retention phase where we make sure your results last well beyond treatment. The retention phase incorporates the use of a retainer, which holds your teeth in their desired position over time, minimizing the risk for natural, age-related changes to your teeth. Retainers lessen the likelihood of your teeth drifting out of position by allowing your gums, bone and ligaments reorganize around your teeth after Invisalign.

Wearing a retainer after Invisalign helps ensure a long lasting, straight smile. Most patients start by wearing their retainers full time for a short period of time, and then transition to only wearing retainers at night — and in some cases eventually only a few nights per week. Each case varies, depending on your mouth and what our orthodontists recommend.

How to Care for Your Retainer

Retainer Options

While it may seem like a good idea to use your last Invisalign tray as your retainer, it simply does not work that way. Invisalign aligners are not designed for long-term use as they do not apply enough pressure to keep your teeth in the right position over a long period of time. Instead, there are two main types of retainers we recommend for our Invisalign patients:

  • Fixed Retainer: Consisting of a thin, metal wire that we glue to the back of your teeth on the tongue side. Fixed retainers offer a more permanent solution that eliminates the risk of losing your retainer.
  • Removable Retainer: This style comes in two forms – one being a traditional wire retainer and the other being a clear retainer that resembles and Invisalign tray. Many of our Invisalign patients choose the clear removable retainer because they are already used to it, and they are comfortable and durable!

Retainer Care

Retainers last for many years, but it’s important to note that they should be replaced as soon as you notice signs of wear and tear. They are only effective if they fit perfectly and can apply the correct amount of force.

Here are additional tips for keeping your retainers in good shape:

  • Brush both sides of your removable retainers with a soft toothbrush every day. Every week, give them a deeper clean by soaking them in retainer-cleaning solution.
  • For permanent retainers, brush around your wire really well twice a day and continue to floss once per day. This wire can easily trap food particles, so it’s essential to clean it well to prevent tooth decay or gum disease.
  • Take removable retainers out any time you eat or drink beverages like coffee or tea, which can stain and warp the retainer.
  • Remove your retainer when playing sports and store it in its case whenever you aren’t wearing it. Wear a mouthguard with your permanent retainer to protect it from impact.
  • Never attempt to adjust your retainer by yourself. If you think it needs an adjustment, take it to your orthodontist first, so they can do it the right way.

Wearing a retainer after Invisalign helps keep your smile healthy and last a lifetime. Continue to brush and floss regularly, as well as visiting your general dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. Additionally, it’s important to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet full of necessary vitamins to keep your teeth strong and boost overall oral health.

If you have ever have any questions about orthodontic treatment, or are curious to learn more about Invisalign or retainers, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office. We’d love to help you stay on track to maintaining a straight and healthy smile!

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