Life after Invisalign
22 December 2022
You’re almost done with your Invisalign treatment and you will soon have the smile of your dreams! While the main part of your Invisalign journey is close to its finish line, it does not stop there.
Your Invisalign treatment has been focused on treating your misaligned teeth by gradually shifting them to their ideal position. After your treatment, you’ll transition to a new phase known as ‘maintenance’ or ‘retention’.
You may ask, “Why do I need maintenance when I now have a straighter set of teeth?” or “What does the maintenance phase entail?”.
We got you covered as we share more details about life after Invisalign.
The Maintenance Phase
The maintenance phase of your Invisalign journey focuses on ensuring that the results you’ve achieved from your Invisalign treatment do not go to waste.
In other words, the maintenance phase is to ensure that your straightened teeth do not shift back to their initial position after you’ve removed your last Invisalign aligner.
All orthodontic treatments such as metal braces or Invisalign will require the patient to wear a retainer upon the completion of their treatment to prevent their teeth from shifting. This maintenance phase is equally important as your treatment phase.
Why Do I Need a Retainer?
The idea of wearing a retainer right after you’ve completed your Invisalign treatment may not seem pleasing. We understand you’ve invested your time and money to benefit from the advantages of Invisalign, and wearing another orthodontic appliance after your treatment seems like a never-ending journey.
Truly, the need for you to wear a retainer is to benefit you. Upon the completion of your Invisalign treatment, your teeth remain vulnerable and they could easily shift. Therefore, wearing a retainer will help to hold them securely in place.
This process does not happen overnight. It could take about a year or more, so it is important for you to remain diligent when wearing your retainer. As every patient is unique, your dentist will advise on instructions and duration on how long you should wear your retainer. Typically, you will be required to wear your retainer throughout the day for a period of time and you will gradually transition to having to wear them to sleep at night.
What Options Do I Have?
Retainers are mainly divided into two categories, namely removable and permanent retainers.
For the former, your options include clear retainers and Invisalign’s Vivera retainers, which are virtually invisible. Another option would be Hawley retainers which have acrylic and a thin metal wire, designed to fit the roof of your mouth or the inside of your lower teeth. Removable retainers have their advantages such as having the flexibility of removing them during your meals. However, they have a life span of about 1 to 3 years, depending on the type of removable retainer you opted for.
Do also note that be it metal or plastic, removable retainers are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ oral appliance. Just like your Invisalign clear aligners, they are tailored to fit your teeth perfectly.
Permanent retainers, on the other hand, are made of metal and bonded to the back of your teeth to help keep your teeth in place. This option is especially suitable for patients who are less diligent with removable retainers and are at a higher risk of their teeth shifting back to their initial position. One of the advantages of permanent retainers is that it has a long life span and can last as long as it doesn’t break. However, more effort will be required to maintain your oral health as it has a higher risk of plaque buildup.
How Long Will I need to Wear My Retainer?
During the first few months, you’ll be required to wear your retainer for the entire day to hold your teeth in place. Along the way, your dentist will advise you to reduce the hours such as wearing your retainer only at night.
Over time, your dentist will adjust the duration but you’ll most likely need to wear your retainer throughout your life. Not to worry, as the hours decrease and you adjust to this new lifestyle, you’ll realise that it’s all worth it to wear your retainer as recommended.
What Happens if I Do Not Adhere to the After Care Plan?
The purpose of wearing a retainer is to secure your teeth in their new position. Therefore, if you do not adhere to your dentist’s instructions on wearing them, you will risk the following:
- Your teeth will begin to shift and possibly return to their misaligned position.
- You will be required to schedule another appointment with your dentist to get fitted with a new retainer.
- You may need to return to wearing your retainer for a longer period, such as during the day.
- There is a possibility that you will need to restart your orthodontic treatment.
- There can be changes to your bite. In other words, malocclusion could develop.
Therefore, wearing your retainers diligently and according to your dentist’s instructions is important to retain your new and improved smile throughout your life.
Life After Invisalign: Other Important Habits
While wearing a retainer is the main part of the maintenance phase, there are also other important habits to maintain as you continue with life after Invisalign.
Caring for your retainer is essential and is similar to caring for your Invisalign aligners. You’ll need to remove your retainer when eating, and to rinse and clean them daily. It is also best not to drink hot beverages to prevent your retainers from warping.
Secondly, it’s important to keep up with your dental appointments. This allows your dentist to check if there has been any movement of your teeth or if there are changes to your mouth that may put your teeth’s positions at risk.
During your appointments, your dentist will also ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy. This helps to prevent tooth decay as well as gum diseases. When at home, it’s essential to continue brushing and flossing regularly to maintain your oral health.
Your life after Invisalign is just as exciting, especially with your new smile! Speak to our dentist if you’ve questions about wearing your retainer or your journey after Invisalign.