Why You Need Retainers after Braces and Invisalign

Why You Need Retainers after Braces and Invisalign Grand Rapids MI

Your teeth and the rest of your body will continue to change the rest of your life. For this reason, it’s important you wear your retainer as directed by our orthodontists once you’re done with treatment. 

The last thing you want after wearing bracesor Invisalign® aligners is to be told that your teeth have shifted back into their original positions. Not only is this disappointing, but it can affect the appearance of your smile, bite relationship, and oral health.

Continue reading to learn the other reasons for wearing your retainer after orthodontic treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Do Retainers Stop Teeth From Moving?
  • What Can I Expect 12 Months After Braces?
  • Do I Need Retainers After Invisalign?
  • Are There Different Types of Retainers?
  • What If I Lose My Retainer?
  • What Does it Mean if Your Retainer is Tight?

How Do Retainers Stop Teeth from Moving?

Once you have your braces removed, we can understand the reluctance you may feel to wear yet another oral appliance. However, if you do not wear your retainer properly, your teeth will gradually shift to their original positions.

While you may not see your teeth moving at first, the changes become more noticeable over time. For example, your retainer may feel tight and uncomfortable if you haven’t worn it for a few days. Your retainers will fit for as long as you consistently wear them.

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 the everyday wear and tear on your teeth as you bite down, chew, swallow, and speak. The orthodontic retainer is designed to prevent noticeable changes so you can maintain a beautiful smile.

What Can I Expect 12 Months after Braces or Invisalign?

Your teeth are partly held in place by the surrounding jawbone. During orthodontic treatment, your jawbone often softens or disappears (a process called resorption) so teeth can move into their final positions.

Once you stop wearing metal bracesor Invisalign, you need to wear orthodontic retainers so your teeth are held in place while new bone is deposited. It takes about 9 to 12 months for your body to build up enough bone to stabilize teeth.

After 12 months have passed, you should have enough new bone deposited around your teeth to keep them stable. For this reason, you won’t have to wear your orthodontic retainers as frequently to maintain your beautifully straight smile. Your orthodontistmay recommend only wearing your retainers 3 to 5 times a week.

While your teeth won’t move as dramatically once the jawbone regains bone tissue, they will slightly move forward and inward as you get older. This change isn’t something you notice overnight, but rather something that gradually happens over decades.

Do I Need Retainers after Invisalign?

Yes, you’ll need to wear a retainer after Invisalign treatment. Even though Invisalignmoves teeth differently from braces, the result is still the same. You’ll need to wear retainers after any kind of teeth straightening.

Are There Different Types of Retainers?

Yes, there are two primary types of retainers: removable and fixed. The type of retainer you are given will depend on your specific dental situation but it is not uncommon for patients to receive a combination of both. For example, a removable retainer for the upper teeth and a fixed retainer for the bottom. 

Removable retainers are exactly that, removable. Our orthodontists will inform you on exactly how long you will need to wear your retainer full time and then how often it will need to be worn long term. You will need to be sure to clean the retainer as instructed.

Fixed retainers are bonded to your teeth in a way that can’t be clearly seen, such as on the back of your teeth. Because it is not removable, extra care will need to be taken with this type of retainer to remove food particles and prevent periodontal issues.

What if I Lose My Retainer?

If you lose your retainer, just call our office to schedule an appointment. Whether you accidently threw out your retainer on your lunch tray or the dog ate it, we can get you fitted for a new retainer as soon as possible so you don’t lose the progress you made with orthodontic treatment. During your appointment, we’ll take impressions of your teeth to create a new retainer.

What Does it Mean if Your Retainer is Tight?

Your retainer may feel tight if you haven’t worn it recently or as often as our orthodontists recommended. This is because it doesn’t take much time for your teeth to start shifting toward their original positions. It’s also normal for teeth to shift a little as you get older. 

If your retainer feels really tight, schedule an appointment with one of our orthodontists. Don’t try to force the appliance over your teeth.

Request an Appointment With Us

Our orthodontists in Grand Rapids and Grandville, MI, are dedicated to helping patients achieve their best smiles. To schedule your free consultation with one of our orthodontists, call Armbrecht & Wierenga Orthodontics today.

This blog post has been updated.