Alpharetta, GA – If you are reading this, then there is a big chance that you have just finished your Invisalign treatment. Congratulations on completing your Invisalign journey! If you are midway through your treatment and are just looking up information to ensure your straight smile, then that is also great! We are glad to see that you are proactive at taking care of your smile. Either way, you have dedicated several months to working hard to achieve your beautiful, new smile at the end of your Invisalign treatment.
Although your journey with Invisalign has or will be coming to an end, it does not mean that your path to a straight smile is finished. “Sometimes, patients may think that when they leave my office once they complete Invisalign or have braces removed, the work is over, and their smile is now straight forever,” says Dr. Nima Hajibaik. “As wonderful as that would be, it simply isn’t the case, and if you don’t follow after treatment guidelines, you might find your teeth shifting back to their old locations.”
The first thing to know is that your smile won’t be completely stable as soon as your treatment ends. It will take time for your mouth, and the ligaments and tissues, to adjust to their new locations. You will feel a sense of freedom once you do not have to wear aligners continually. Also, your teeth may feel slightly sensitive for a little bit. Your teeth may need an adjustment period once your treatment is completed. Try to avoid very hard or chewy foods that could cause you discomfort.
This short adjustment period is only temporary, and this is why your orthodontist will direct you to wear a retainer. It is essential that you wear the retainer as prescribed by your orthodontist.
What Happens If I Don’t Wear My Retainer?
Failing to wear your retainer can cause your teeth to shift right back to where they were before your treatment began. And Dr. Nima says this is often why Alpharetta patients turn to him for Invisalign treatment in the first place. “I often treat adult patients who say they wore braces in their teen years, but then didn’t wear their retainer the way they should have,” says Dr. Nima, who is a certified Invisalign provider. “And over time, their teeth shifted, and they wanted to improve their smiles once again.”
In fact, the initial shifting of the teeth can happen in as little as 24-48 hours without a retainer. Commit to wearing your retainer as your orthodontist prescribes, and you can keep your smile straight and able to function ideally.
Fixed vs. Regular Retainer
There are two different retainer options you can choose from, which are the fixed retainers or the regular ones. Fixed retainers are fine metal wires that are connected to the back of your front teeth by cement. The permanent wires prevent your teeth from moving after you have undergone orthodontic treatment. Initially, fixed retainers can feel a bit uncomfortable, but you will hardly remember they are there after a few hours. The fixed retainer will make sure that your teeth remain straight without any work on your end.
Regular retainers are similar to the Invisalign aligners; they are removable and must be worn continuously. You are held responsible for whether or not your teeth remain straight or grow crooked overtime. You have to wear your retainer the recommended amount of time to really ensure that your teeth stay straight overtime. Removable retainers also can protect your teeth at night if you happen to grind them during the night. These retainers can last up to nine months or even two years, depending on how well you take care of the retainers.
Why You Should Wear Retainers
Invisalign straightens your teeth by gently forcing your teeth and shifting them into new positions. Teeth are not easy to move because each tooth is surrounded by bone. When your teeth are moved into their new positions, new bone begins to grow around the teeth, which helps to stabilize it and hold it in its new place. This process can take between nine and twelve months, which is why it is essential to wear your retainers. Your teeth may shift back into their original positions if they are not reined in by retainers.
How Long Do You Need to Wear Retainers
Once your Invisalign treatment ends, it is recommended that you wear your retainers about the same amount of time you wear your aligners. The exact time that you wear your aligners each day does depend on several different factors, but your orthodontist will go over that with you. Eventually, that time will be reduced, and you will only have to wear your retainers at night. You will want to wear your retainers throughout your life in order to ensure a straight smile.
Retainers are not made of steel, which means they will have to be replaced every so often. The frequency of how often replacement takes place depends on how well the retainers are taken care of. If you grind your teeth at night, your retainers may have to be replaced more frequently over time. If you have pets and your pets somehow damage them, then a replacement will have to take place. If you misplace your retainers, make sure to make an appointment with your orthodontist to have new ones made as soon as possible.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
It’s also important that you commit yourself to proper oral hygiene and maintain regular checkups with your orthodontist. Tooth loss is the primary reason why teeth shift, and periodontal disease is the number one cause for tooth loss.
“It’s important to commit to a proper routine of brushing and flossing each day,” says Dr. Nima. “Invisalign treatment required a lot of work on your part, and you want to be able to enjoy the beautiful new smile that you worked so hard for. Failing to brush at least twice daily and floss once a day, and visit your dentist twice a year, can put your teeth at risk for decay and gum disease.”
Regular checkups with your dentist will ensure that your teeth are healthy and that your bite is still correct. Your dentist will be able to tell if your teeth are shifting over time, and if needed, can create a new retainer for you to ensure your teeth can reestablish a stable bite.
If you want to keep your newly straight and properly functioning grin, your work doesn’t end just because your Invisalign treatment is over. Take proper care of your teeth, wear your retainer as prescribed, and don’t hesitate to ask your orthodontist questions about how to maintain your new smile.
Newpark Orthodontics is home to leading Alpharetta orthodontist, Dr. Nima Hajibaik. He is happy to answer your questions about orthodontics. If you’d like to book an appointment, feel free to give us a call or send us a message!