Not wearing your retainer after either traditional metal braces or Invisalign is a mistake that will cost you a lot of time and money. It’s understandable that you might be put off by the idea of once again constraining your teeth after wearing braces or Invisalign for so long, but it’s the only way to ensure that new beautiful and straight smile.
Why Retainers Are Important: Your Teeth Can Move!
While you may not see it at first, your teeth shift slowly day by day once your braces are removed or you are finished with your Invisalign treatment. This is due to muscles in your mouth, mainly your tongue, and movements like eating, talking, etc. If left unchecked the changes will become more and more noticeable which in a worst-case scenario could cause an “orthodontic relapse”, which would require you to once again wear braces. That’s money, time, and discomfort you don’t want to waste.
What Exactly is a Retainer?
A retainer is a custom-made device designed specifically to help keep your teeth in their newly aligned position once you no longer require braces or Invisalign. For example, if you haven’t worn your retainer in a few days, it might feel tight or uncomfortable which is a clear indication that your teeth have started shifting. At this point it is vital that you correct your teeth’s shift immediately. If, however you consistently wear your retainer after Invisalign, or braces as recommended by any orthodontist in the Austin area you should be just fine. Remember, it’s normal for your teeth to slightly shift after having your braces removed or once you stop wearing Invisalign. This is the result of everyday use of your teeth; which again is why wearing a retainer is so important.
Different Types of Retainers: Fixed and Removable
There are two different forms of retainers, fixed and removable. Fixed retainers are like braces in that they are a small metal wire aligned along the back of your teeth. They cannot be removed and are positioned inside of your mouth. A fixed retainer stays in place permanently and does a great job at keeping your teeth aligned, which is why many people prefer this type. The only issue with this type of retainer is that food is more likely to get stuck in between the wire and your teeth which means you will need to clean these areas regularly to avoid plaque build up. This makes regular teeth cleanings even more important, as some build up behind your permanent retainer is inevitable.
A removable retainer on the other hand comes in different forms. Here you can decide between a metal-wire retainer and a clear retainer (which is very similar to your Invisalign aligners). The removable retainer after Invisalign is a great route to go if you want something you can clean easily and remove as you wish. The option of removing it does however often make it easier for patients to either lose their retainer or forget to use it as often. If you think you are more likely to not wear your retainer if you can take it out, consider going with the fixed retainer to ensure you keep that new smile in place.
In addition to comfort, another important characteristic of a retainer is its durability. Retainers are known to crack or break easily, which is why you should pick one that will last you the longest. You can speak to your orthodontist in the Austin area to discuss the best option for you; the type of retainer you should choose, and which retainers are most durable. Choosing the right retainer is the most important next step to maintaining your smile after traditional metal braces or Invisalign.
The Retention Phase
The retention phase is one of the most important times to wear a retainer. This phase follows the active phase which is when you are still actively wearing your Invisalign aligners or braces. During the retention phase your teeth are most vulnerable to movement as your bones and gum tissue have become temporarily softened throughout the duration of your treatment. This is when your new smile is most fragile, and it is therefore extremely important to wear your retainer as much as possible during this time. The retention-phase duration may differ from person to person and you should therefore discuss this with your orthodontist in the Austin area. Depending on the condition of your teeth, they will be able to best determine how long your retention phase will be which will also influence how long and how often you should wear your retainer beyond the retention phase.
How Long and How Often You Should Wear Your Retainer
It is recommended that you wear your retainer after Invisalign or braces for at least 3 months, all day and all night. If you have a removable retainer, you must remove it while eating or drinking, but you should be wearing it as much as possible to get the best results.
After the 3-month retention period, you can begin lessening the hours you have your retainer in, either to about half the day and all night, or possibly less. When you pass the 6-month mark, you can begin to only wear your retainer at night. Again, the most important thing is to follow the instruction of your orthodontist in the Austin area, as some patients are required to wear their retainer full time for up to a year. As the years go by, you may be able to reduce how often you wear your retainer to a couple of nights a week. It is however recommended you stick to wearing your retainer every night. Keep in mind that a retainer is a permanent commitment, and you will need to wear it and take care of it for life for the best results.
The Bottom Line.
Taking care of your teeth is immensely important for not only your oral health, but your overall health. This doesn’t mean just daily oral care such as brushing and flossing and wearing your retainer regularly, but it also means regularly visiting your dentist for a check-up and cleaning. This is the best way to keep track of your teeth after Invisalign or braces and to make sure you maintain the smile you had to wait so long for.
We want to be there to help you every step of the way. Come see us for the orthodontic experience you and your family deserve. If you have any further questions about wearing a retainer after Invisalign or braces, schedule an appointment with one of our caring orthodontic experts today.