You’ve spent twelve months in Invisalign and you’re more than ready to toss your clear aligners. The good news is that you can — you’re technically done with treatment (congrats!). The not-so-good news is that you’ll now need to wear a retainer in order to keep your teeth from moving around again. Your teeth will always want to revert back to the misaligned position they were in before you started treatment. Without the proper retainer consistently reminding them to stay in place, your new smile will not last.
That may sound a little scary but it shouldn’t. Many, many people have removable or permanent (“bonded”) retainers. If they do wear one, chances are you’ve never seen it. Removable retainers are typically clear, just like an Invisalign tray. Bonded retainers just rest behind the front teeth. After getting into a routine, wearing and taking care of a retainer will be like second nature!
What is a removable retainer?
At Stanley Dentistry, we typically recommend that Invisalign patients get a removable retainer post-treatment. Of course, every case is unique so we may recommend something different under abnormal circumstances. We like removable retainers for a few reasons:
- Removable retainers help keep all of your teeth in the right position. Bonded retainers only manage to keep the front teeth straight.
- If the patient wishes, the clear tray can be used for teeth whitening. An anti-sensitivity solution is placed in the tray and the patient wears it overnight for a few weeks during the first step of the Kor whitening process.
- Invisalign trays have a similar look and feel as a removable retainer. This means Invisalign patients already know how to clean the trays, remove them efficiently, etc.
- They allow for easy brushing and flossing for the patient since they’re removable.
As with everything, there are some cons to removable retainers. The most obvious one is that you have to remember to actually wear them. For the first few months, we encourage patients to wear their retainers as much as possible. This means wearing them at night and during the day. After that initial period, patients only have to wear them at night. But, if they forget to wear them for a week or more, they can expect some discomfort when they try to reinsert the retainer. If the patient neglects to wear the retainer for an extended amount of time, additional orthodontics may be needed to regain a straight smile.
Some of our patients grind their teeth at night (bruxism). In these cases, we recommend that the patient get a retainer occlusal guard. These keep the teeth straight and help inhibit dental grinding.
What is a bonded retainer?
Bonded or permanent retainers are just as their name suggests: permanent (or, at least, non-removable). We bond the small metal retainer to the front upper or bottom teeth to help keep them in the right place. The retainer is specially made to facilitate easy brushing and flossing, so you won’t have to worry about any dental hygiene setbacks. However, we don’t always recommend permanent retainers because they cannot do anything for the back teeth and they frequently break (often times without the patient even knowing). If the retainer does break, the teeth can potentially move out of place (once again, without the patient realizing it), requiring, potentially, additional orthodontics to re-straighten.
We recommend bonded retainers for patients who 1) had misalignment only on their front teeth or 2) for patients who struggle with remembering to put in and take out their Invisalign trays. It also depends on the patient’s unique case and dental history.
Ready to start your Invisalign treatment?
Invisalign is the easiest, fastest, and most affordable way to transform your smile. We’re offering complimentary Invisalign consultations that include a free Itero scan so you can get started on your treatment during the first appointment. You can request a new appointment here! We’ll see you soon!