How Long After Invisalign Do I Need a Retainer?

After invisalign would I have to wear a retainer forever? I have a gap and my front left tooth is crooked. Many people includeing my bf say that I shouldnt even bother my teeth because he thinks that they are fine (he had really bad teeth, like horrible when he was younger and i believe had to wear braces for like 3 years or more, so he wants me to stay away from anything that does something to your teeth). I want my teeth straight, but my only problem is I read someone's review and they said that they have to wear a retainer forever. I don't mind having to wear them for a while, but I really don't want to wear them forever, if i have to ask a ortho, could they be able to tell me if i have to wear it forever before they even start me with invisalign because I really don't want to?

Doctor Answers 29

Forever retained

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If you want your teeth to stay put you need to marry your retainer. No divorce unless you want your teeth to start to drift. Wear around the clock for the first 6 months or so then night time forever. Naturally one retainer won't last forever so get used to the idea of investing in the future. This should be part of the discussion before you decide to proceed with Invisalign. 

Dubuque Dentist

Retention, to some degree (not full-time), is required for lifetime.

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Whether one has had braces/Invisalign or not, teeth are continually moving to some degree and it may not always be percetible. Your teeth probably don't look the same today as they did 5, 10, or 15 years ago. Continual biting, chewing, and other functional forces help to cause these alignment changes in tooth alignment over time.

That being said, certain teeth alignment problems need to be retained longer than others. For example, open bites, gaps between teeth, twisted or rotated teeth (especially upper and lower front teeth) have a high tendency to relapse or move back to their original position. Therefore, retention is more critical in these kinds of cases.

In your case specifically, it appears you have a diastema or a gap between between your upper front teeth. This problem is relatively easy to correct but very difficult to retain. Diatemas like these are usually associated with thin or thick band of tissue ("meat") comming from the upper lip and attaching to the area adjacent to gap between the teeth (pull your lip out, away from your lip to check). If present, I usually recommend a frenectomy to be performed which stabilizes the space closure in this area. Ask your provider about this option. Spaces between teeth, once closed, have a strong tendency to want to open again.

For retention, A.) fixed retention is an option. With this, a small wire is bonded or glued to the back of your front teeth.

Pros: You don't have to remember to wear a retainer. If this option is chosen I would strongly recommend an additional Invisalign-like retainer to fit over the fixed retainer as insurance, in case of breakage.

Cons: 1) The wire can become un-glued or break (it is not always apparent when this happens) and your teeth will move or space opens again (requiring additional treatment and additional costs. 2) In some individuals, can be uncomfortable to the tongue. 3) Make it more difficult to floss and clean.

B.) Removable Retainers - There are several types of removable retainers. I like the clear "slip-cover" retainers which look like the Invisalign trays but made of a stronger longer lasting material. I would not recommend wearing your last Invisalign aligner as a retainer for an extended period of time. These are made of a material that are only meant to last for a few weeks before they start to break down and crack.

Pros: 1) Adequate hygiene can be maintained. 2) If you loose it, you can immediately get a new one without teeth moving. 3) And best of all, wear time gets less and less as time goes by - if worn as recommended, you will eventually get to the point that frequency of wear will be minimal i.e. once a week at nighttime.

Cons: 1) You must wear it as instructed and keep up with it. 2) Easy to loose for some people. 3) Full time wear schedule initially which will decrease with time (see your provider for schedule)

P.S. Just because your BF had "bad" teeth doesn't mean you have to...

Matt T. Walton, DMD
Suwanee Orthodontist

Retainers after Invisalign

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At my practice 70% of all consultations are from patients who had metal braces and then never wore their retainers.

Teeth have a tendency to move a little, especially after orthodontic treatment. Teeth can also move if you are a bruxist and grind your teeth at night.

We recommend retainers are worn regularly, weekly at night, if only 1-2 times per week.

This may be forever, but its got to be less hassle than taking off your makeup every night etc.

Retainers retain teeth.

Choices for retention after Invisalign

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As a general dentist who has been treating patients with both conventional orthodontics (braces) since 1995 and using Invisalign since 2000, I'm usually not in favor of bonded retainers after any kind of orthodontic treatment.  They are difficult to clean around, and let's face it, most people don't even floss regularly without having to go under a bonded bar!  AND the lower front teeth is the most common area to place the bonded retainers and that is one of the areas that tartar buildup occurs the worst!  I am an advocate of the patient wearing the last aligner or new retainer/aligners every night for as long as they want to keep those teeth straight.

Gerilyn Alfe, DMD
Chicago Dentist

After Invisalign, retain your retainer forever

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The retainer should be worn forever after any orthodontic treatment.  There are many different kinds of retainers, some of which are cemented (you don't have to take these off - they aren't visible at all), some are worn at night only.  

Victoria Olshansky, DDS
Los Angeles Dentist

Retaining the Benefits of Invisalign

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Immediately upon the finish of orthodontic treatment using Invisalign, retainers must be worn.  It is highly recommended that the removable retainers be worn full time for three months after the completion of active tooth movement using Invisalign and then every night (while sleeping) afterwards.

Janet H. Stoess-Allen, DMD
New York Orthodontist

Retainers may be forever!

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Teeth behave just like the rest of our body.Changes are ongoing as we mature. Not that teeth change in shape - but they do change in position. This is true whether or not there has been orthodontic treatment. Your orthodontist may prescribe retainers attached to the inner surface of your teeth or may recommend removable retainers. In general retainers are used more in the early stages following completion of tratment and the amount of wear decreased, but rarely stopped completely, after some time has passed. 

The best way to protect your investment in orthodontic treatment is to carefully follow your orthodontist's recommendation about the type of retainers that will best fit your needs and the instructions about the amount of time they should be worn.

R. William McNeill, DDS, MS
Mercer Island Orthodontist

Retain only the teeth you want to keep straight!

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Retain only the teeth you want to keep straight.  This statement reminds me of the bad dental joke "You only have to floss the teeth you want to keep!"  Although there is a lot of truth to these statements, wearing of an Invisalign retainer should not be a big issue as a big advantage of Invisalign treatment over braces is their great comfort. Usually the first couple years, you wear your aligners each night and then can taper down to one to two nights a week.  I personally have worn both braces and Invisalign at different times and there is no comparison in comfort levels.  So if you are a candidate for Invisalign (not all are), the see your orthodontist and get it going. 

There are options... ask your doctor

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Depending on the severity of the tooth movement different types of retainers can be made. Typically with invisalign the last aligner is used to hold the teeeth in alignment. This aligner is worn only at night. If the tooth movements were simple and only involved the fron teeth it is possible that a retainer placed in the back of the teeth can be permanently placed to hold the teeth in alignment. This type of retainer does not need to be removed and is very comfortable. Ask your doctor what your options are, there may be an option that you will be comfortable with other than a removable retainer.

Ryan Sellinger, DMD
Manhattan Dentist

How Long After Invisalign Do I Need a Retainer?

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If you want results to last, you should wear retainers every night. I totally understand that at this time it sounds overwhelming. I felt the same way before I did Invisalign for myself. Trust me, I still wear retainers every night (skipping occasionally), years after I finished my orthodontic treatment. It feels totally normal and does not bother me a bit.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.