Orthodontists often recommend Invisalign for adults who are interested in achieving a straighter smile. Adults prefer Invisalign aligners because they are practically invisible, more comfortable, and they can lead to quicker results than traditional wire braces. But, it’s important that patients understand the work is not over once they no longer have to wear their Invisalign trays. Patients will need to wear a retainer after they have completed their Invisalign treatment. Here’s everything you need to know:

Why Do Invisalign Patients Need to Wear Retainers?

Invisalign braces are used to slowly adjust the positioning of your teeth to create a straighter, more aligned smile. But, patients who don’t wear a retainer after completing their Invisalign treatment may not get to enjoy the results for very long. Teeth can slowly start to shift back to their original position if a retainer is not worn. Basically, the retainer holds your teeth in place to prevent this from happening.

What Type of Retainer Will Invisalign Patients Have to Wear?

There are two common types of retainers: wire retainers and plastic retainers. The former have plastic pieces that fit the roof of your mouth. These plastic pieces are held in place by wires that reach across the front and side teeth. 

Although wire retainers are the traditional choice, many Invisalign patients prefer plastic retainers since they look and feel similar to Invisalign aligners. These retainers are even made using the same state-of-the-art technology that is used to create Invisalign trays. Using this technology ensures that the plastic retainer will fit perfectly inside your mouth so you are as comfortable as possible for the remainder of your treatment.

They may look the same as Invisalign, but plastic retainers are made out of a tougher plastic. In fact, it’s estimated that the plastic on these retainers is about 30% stronger than the plastic used to make Invisalign trays. Caring for plastic retainers is very similar to caring for Invisalign trays, which makes it easier for patients to remember what to do.  

How Long Will You Have to Wear A Retainer?

Every case is unique, so the answer to this question varies. Your orthodontist will be able to answer your questions regarding how long you will have to wear the retainer, how often you will have to wear it, and whether you will need to wear a retainer on both your upper and lower teeth. See more frequently asked questions about Invisalign.

What If You Forget to Wear the Retainer?

It’s important to follow your orthodontist’s instructions if you want to achieve the best results possible. Many people have trouble remembering to put in their retainer, but there are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening. For example, let’s say your orthodontist has told you to only wear the retainer at night. Make sure you remember to put it in before bed by keeping the retainer and the case right near your toothbrush in the bathroom. This way, putting the retainer in will become part of your nighttime routine. You can also set a daily reminder on your phone right around the time that you leave for work every morning. This should help you remember to put in the retainer before you head to work so you don’t go an entire day without wearing it.  

Some patients may forget to wear their retainer, but others choose not to because they don’t think wearing it makes a difference. If this sounds familiar, remind yourself of how important it is to wear your retainer by looking at your before and after pictures. You went through a lot to see the results that you achieved with Invisalign, so don’t let all of your hard work go to waste by letting your teeth shift back to their original positions. Keep your before and after pictures saved on your phone so you can sneak a peek every time you need a friendly reminder of why you should wear your retainer.

How to Care For A Retainer

Patients will need to make the same effort to care for their retainers as they did when caring for their Invisalign aligners. Most retainers can be cleaned with toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, so get in the habit of brushing your retainer every time you brush your teeth. 

Retainers should be removed before eating so they don’t trap food particles inside your mouth. If you need to remove the retainer to eat, put it inside its case instead of wrapping it in a napkin or paper towel. The fibers from the napkin or paper towel can stick to the surface of your retainer and be difficult to remove. Plus, it’s easy to forget the retainer is wrapped inside the napkin or paper towel, so you may accidentally toss it in the trash. 

You should not chew gum or eat any sticky foods while wearing a retainer. These foods can cause damage if they get stuck to your retainer.

Plastic retainers should never be exposed to extreme heat, so regardless of what you read online, do not try to clean your retainer by putting it in the dishwasher. You should also remove your retainer before drinking any hot liquids such as coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. The heat from these beverages could cause the plastic to slightly melt, which means the retainer would no longer fit perfectly inside your mouth.

The plastic can also crack if it dries out, so talk to your orthodontist about how you can prevent this from happening. Most orthodontists will recommend soaking the retainer when it is not in use so the plastic can stay somewhat moist at all times.

For more information on Invisalign or wearing a retainer after treatment, talk to the experts. At Prentice Orthodontics, our goal is to serve your needs, improve your health, and make you smile! We have a highly trained and friendly staff that is eager to welcome you into our offices and assist you with your dental needs. Call 303-468-7722 for a free consultation or contact us using the form on our website today!