To keep your smile looking its best for a lifetime, you'll need to wear your retainer every night for the rest of your life. The good news is that, after a while, you won't need to use it as often. Kathryn Swan, a board-certified orthodontist, recommends that all people wear a retainer after completing their Invisalign treatment. As with traditional braces, wearing a retainer after Invisalign helps you maintain a beautiful, straight smile.
If you don't wear a retainer after your treatment, your teeth will slowly move out of place. Although your teeth won't change dramatically overnight if you forget to use the retainer, they will gradually shift over time. For this reason, we suggest that Invisalign patients wear their retainers as often as recommended by their orthodontist. No, they won't last forever, but they should last 2 to 10 years, depending on the type, how well you care for them, and if you don't lose them.
Once the new bone has developed and the teeth have fully stabilized in their new positions, usually after a year, it is essential to use the retainer, but you won't need to use it as often; usually 3 to 5 nights a week is sufficient. Whether you're still deciding which orthodontic treatment to choose or you've just completed your treatment with Invisalign, retention will be a lifelong commitment. If your dentist determines that there is enough new bone to keep your teeth stable, they will only allow you to use the retainers at bedtime. For the first three to six months after finishing the aligners, you'll need to wear retainers for 22 hours a day to keep your teeth in place while the new bone is deposited. Teeth like this are very tempted to return to their former positions and need the constant presence of a retainer to keep them aligned and in place.
The general rule is that the longer the corrective treatment lasts, the longer you'll need to wear a retainer to maintain results. Once you're officially done with your clear aligners, your dentist will provide you with a custom retainer for you to wear for about six months. Invisalign offers an inconspicuous and convenient way to correct crooked teeth within 6 to 24 months, depending on the severity of the case. After about six months, your dentist will examine your mouth to make sure your teeth haven't moved before allowing you to switch to using the retainer for a shorter period of time. For the first three months after braces or aligners, you should wear retainers most of the time.
Whether you have metal, transparent braces or removable Invisalign aligners, you'll need to use retainers. In short, you'll have to wear your retainers for life after finishing your treatment with Invisalign.