LAST UPDATED: JUNE 28, 2017
What Happens After Invisalign Treatment Is Completed?
Completing your Invisalign treatment is an occasion to smile about. For the next several weeks, you will be busy flashing your newly straightened teeth at everyone you meet while you relish in your newfound confidence. While it is important to take pride in this special occasion, it is also essential to remain vigilant with your orthodontic treatment to preserve those perfect results. Now that you have worn your last set of braces, you will graduate to the retainment phase of your treatment. Use this guide to know what to expect along with the best strategies to implement to keep that beautiful smile.
Understand Why Teeth Shift
For many people, it comes as a surprise to discover that teeth continuously move throughout life. As a child, your teeth will move to accommodate changes such as new molars and a larger jaw line, but the shifting does not stop when you reach adulthood. Teeth are held into the jawbone with ligaments that allow for some stretching, and it is this ability to move that made it possible for your orthodontic treatment to work. Over time, teeth may attempt to move back to their original alignment due to the body’s natural instinct to return things to their natural state. They may also shift if you lose a tooth or are prone to harmful habits such as nighttime grinding.
Recognize the Importance of Wearing a Retainer
Now that you understand how and why teeth shift, you can understand the importance of following your treatment plan regarding how often to wear your retainer. Your new retainer will hold your teeth into their proper alignment so that your body has more time to recognize their placement as the new normal. At first, you may have to wear your retainer the majority of the day, yet you will eventually be able to wean the hours of wearing it down to only at night. While some people are able to eventually stop wearing their retainer, be aware that most people must continue to wear one throughout their life or else risk having their teeth shift out of place.
Find the Right Type of Retainer
There are several different options for retaining your alignment that your orthodontist will consider for your treatment plan. A fixed retainer is best if you or your child find that keeping up with your retainer’s maintenance does not fit into your lifestyle. This type of retainer is bonded to your teeth so that it does not require removal. In some instances, the wires can be placed one the back of your teeth so that they are less noticeable. However, this is less aesthetically pleasing than the removable version because the retainer may still be seen when you open your mouth wide. Some people also find fixed retainers harder to clean since they require you to work around the wire when flossing.
A removable retainer is the type of appliance that most people are familiar with, and it resembles a tray that is similar to your Invisalign ones. These retainers can be removed for eating and contact sports. You will also remove it so that you can brush and floss your teeth properly. However, you will also need to clean your retainer as recommended to keep it in top condition. Since the retainer is removable, there is also a small risk that it could be lost or broken during the times it is not being worn. Learning how to store it properly when it is not in your mouth minimizes that risk, though. When choosing a retainer, your orthodontic care team will assess your compliance with prior treatment along with your current lifestyle and oral health to determine which one will work the best for your personal circumstances.
Attend Maintenance Appointments
It is often said that beginning orthodontic treatment is like discovering a new family. Over the past several months or years, you have seen your orthodontic team often enough that you know about their kids’ hobbies and golf strategy. Those visits may be less frequent now, but you will still need to attend your follow up appointments regularly to watch for minor changes that signify a need for changes to your treatment plan. Sometimes, teeth shift slightly after the braces are removed. When this happens, you may need to have your retainer altered to fit your new alignment. If your teeth shift significantly due to a lost tooth or other cause, then it may be necessary to place a bonded retainer in your mouth. Due the amount of things that can cause your teeth to shift, your bite and alignment will need to be watched carefully over the next several months. Later, you will be able to reduce your maintenance appointments down to less frequent checkups once your teeth have settled down.
Care For Your New Retainer
Look at your new retainer as the defense system that protects your beautiful smile from the hazards it encounters every day. Simply eating and sleeping could damage your alignment, so be sure to wear it as often as it is required. In addition to wearing your retainer, you will need to implement additional strategies to your daily routine that will keep it in the best condition. You will be given an information sheet explaining how to care for your retainer, but as a general rule, you will need to do the following:
- Only remove your retainer from your mouth when necessary or as prescribed.
- Always store your retainer in its case when it is not in your mouth.
- Do not wrap your retainer in a napkin while eating.
- Do not wash your retainer in the dishwasher.
- Never leave your retainer in a hot car or near another heated appliance such as a hair straightener.
- Clean your retainer by brushing it thoroughly between meals, and soak it in the prescribed solution at night.
- If you use vinegar for soaking, do not allow it to sit for longer than five minutes because it will destroy the plastic.
- Schedule an appointment right away if your retainer is lost or broken.
Practice Proper Oral Hygiene
Gum disease or missing teeth are two of the biggest reasons why people lose their preferred teeth alignment. Make sure to do your best to keep your teeth and gums in healthy condition by following a proper oral hygiene routine. Ask your treatment team to show you how to brush and floss your teeth properly. Now that your teeth are in alignment, it should be easier to floss between the spaces without it catching, and your toothbrush will be better able to reach all of those critical surfaces. In addition to your orthodontic appointments, schedule regular exams and cleanings to stay on top of preventing cavities and gum disease. If you experience a problem with one of your teeth, then contact your orthodontist as soon as possible to find out if your retainer will need to be adjusted.
Learn to Manage Bad Habits
While you can’t help your body’s natural tendency to allow your teeth to shift, you can avoid known behaviors that contribute to misalignment. Avoid chewing on hard objects such as pens, and never try to open things with your mouth. Nighttime grinding is another habit that may be a little harder to control, but it will wear down your retainer over time and cause your teeth to shift. Controlling night grinding may require you to implement the following strategies:
- Repair missing or worn down teeth, but remember to have your retainer checked after receiving major dental treatment.
- Learn relaxation strategies for managing stress such as taking a warm bath in the evening.
- Avoid beverages such as alcohol or coffee that increase muscular tension.
- Be aware of daytime clenching so that you can practice relaxing your jaw.
Schedule an Appointment
In Illinois, you visit Childers Orthodontics to have an examination to determine if you need to straighten your teeth. Dr. Kyle R. Childers offers his services to adults, teenagers and children in three locations that include:
After an evaluation of your mouth, our orthodontist can determine if you need to wear one of these types of devices:
Patients at Childers Orthodontics can also request the AcceleDent Aura system to reduce the amount of time required for their orthodontic treatment. Schedule an appointment online or by calling (618) 438-2815.
201 West Washington
Benton, IL 62812
Phone: (618) 438-2815
What Happens After Invisalign Treatment Is Completed?