The Whys and Hows of Wearing Your Retainer

29 Jun 2018 by  admin in Invisalign

InvisalignThe active treatment phase for Invisalign is typically about 12 months, which is shorter than the average treatment time for metal braces. Invisalign works by gently nudging your teeth into the positions they should be in. However, as soon as you remove your last set of clear aligners, it’s possible for your teeth to start moving out of position again. This is why your cosmetic dentist wants you to wear a retainer. By wearing your retainer on the schedule recommended by your dentist, you can greatly reduce your risk of needing orthodontic treatment again as an adult.

Why you need to wear a retainer

Your active treatment phase lasts as long as it takes to get your teeth to where they need to be. The purpose of the retainer is to keep your teeth in these desirable positions. Retainers are necessary because teeth will always follow the path of the least resistance if given the chance. They haven’t had enough time to get firmly anchored in place yet.

Additionally, it’s possible that the force exerted by your tongue against your teeth will move your pearly whites out of position. Your tongue muscle is stronger than you might think, and it’s resting against your teeth on a 24/7 basis. Over time, it can push teeth out of position. Your retainer helps prevent this, and it also helps prevent the misalignment of teeth from the natural forces of biting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking.

Here’s how long you need to wear your retainer

The good news is that most people don’t need to wear a retainer forever. In fact, you won’t even have to wear it as often as your Invisalign aligners. Your dentist will customize your retainer usage recommendations, depending on your unique needs. Cosmetic dentists often recommend Vivera retainers, which are made by the Invisalign company. A Vivera retainer is much like your clear aligners. It’s custom made for you, and it’s virtually invisible.

The specific length of time you’ll be asked to wear the retainer depends on factors like your age and the complexity of your original malocclusion. A boilerplate schedule looks like this:

  1. First 3 to 6 months: Wear for 12 to 22 hours per day
  2. Six to 12 months after treatment: Nighttime usage only
  3. One year-plus: Wear 3 to 5 nights per week

Of course, you should always follow your dentist’s instructions if they differ from these recommendations.

How to take good care of your retainer

Just like your clear aligners, your retainer needs to be cared for properly so it will last. Otherwise, it can get discolored and you may need to have your dentist order a new one for you. Carry the protective case for your retainer with you when you leave home. You’ll need to take the retainer out before eating. You should also remove it before drinking anything other than water. Hot beverages in particular can be harmful to the retainer material.

Brush and floss your teeth before putting the retainer back on. If you’re using the Vivera retainer, it will pop on just like your Invisalign aligners did. Remember to clean the retainer every day using the Invisalign cleaning kit or non-abrasive toothpaste.

Quality dental care in Long Island, Suffolk County

Teens and adults alike can get the straight, beautiful smile they deserve with a little help from Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry. We’re proud to be an Invisalign provider on Long Island, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about wearing a retainer after your Invisalign treatment. Get in touch today at 631.319.7891.

Additional resources about straight smiles:

  1. American Association of Orthodontists, Will My Teeth Stay Where My Orthodontist Moved Them?
  2. Invisalign, Vivera Retainers,
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