Are There Differing Opinions on How Frequent Retainers Should Be Worn After Invisalign?

It was brought up in the Invisalign community that the protocol for how frequent a patient should wear their retainers after treatment may not be agreed upon by all dentists/orthodontists. was under the impression a patient was to wear their retainers full-time for 6 months, then at bed time as long as they wanted to maintain their straightening. What, if any, are the other wearing recommendations doctors are giving?

Doctor Answers 8

How long & how many hours should I wear my retainer?

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This is one of the best and yet hardest questions to answer.  It’s true there are ton of differing opinions out there.  I believe what patients and doctors have in mind are two different things.  I found out what patients really want to know is how can they gage if they have worn retainers enough hours, days and months?

When wearing clear retainers such as Vivera or Essix retainers, the clear retainer itself is the actual gage!  Here is how and why? Let’s say you have worn these retainers consistently as recommended by your doctor and your teeth seem to be stabilizing after few months…. You want to know if you can reduce the number of hours worn? All you have to do is to leave the retainer out for a little longer than normal and then try it on after few hours or a day.  If you feel the slightest pressure on any tooth which is more than what you are used to, this means that you still need to wear the retainer religiously as before.  Why? Because clear retainers are made to have a perfect fit like a glove and once out some teeth may moves.  You then feel the slight to high pressure once you place the retainer back. What happens now is if you have not left the retainer out for too long (days), the retainer still fits but applies pressure to those teeth that moved to bring them back into original position. 

If you are in a rush to reduce the number of hours you wear your retainer, you can try above method in another few weeks to see if you can leave the retainer out for a longer time.  Eventually, after few tries you should get to a point when it’s enough to wear the retainer just few hours a night.  Some get lucky and need less hours of wear in shorter time and some may need it for a very long time. 

Please understand that there are varying factors which determine how many hours and for how long you must wear a retainer.  Generally speaking, I tell my patients even if you never had orthodontics done, you may still need a retainer since teeth shift throughout life.

Once again there are many factors such as bone density, periodontal health, habits such as grinding or tongue thrust, oral hygiene, medical condition, bone and gum condition, genetic factors, neuromuscular factors, and how well the bite may be after orthodontic treatment. Usually the better the occlusion (bite) the less likely it is for teeth to shift so easily.  Your doctor can usually take most these factors into consideration for you and give you a better recommendation but at least now you know how to gage your recommended hours of wear as per information at the beginning of this article (needless to say, always listen to your treating doctor’s recommendation). 

As one of my professors told me back in school, you need to wear your retainers until you have grown children… Although that was a joke, it shows you that you need to wear your retainers for a very very long time and orthodontic maintenance is a lifetime commitment.   If you are really against wearing something at night for a long time, there are also bonded retainers called Lingual Bonded Retainers in variety of types and forms which may work great for most situations but requires a greater home care with flossing and hygiene.  If you love clear plastic retainers but hate the visits to the office for impressions and adjustments, ask your provider for a Vivera Retainer program through invisalign which ships you retainers to your home every few months!  There is a lot more to discuss but we will leave it at this for now. 

As a great lecturer once said : “If you do not wear your retainers as recommended,                   Shift Happens”!


***Online Answers should NEVER be substituted for a complete clinical exam and following advice of your treating doctors based on proper and full diagnosis and treatment planning.   There is no way anyone can properly diagnose and treatment plan a patient online without an in office exam.

New York Dentist

How often to wear retainers after invisalign

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In my office I have my patients where their retainer for 6 months after completion of invisalign and at night after that period.  I find that it works best for my patients and their results.  Other dentists and orthodontists may have a different protocol.

Leonard Tau, DMD
Philadelphia Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Wearing retainers after Invisalign-How often and how long

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In our practice, after Invisalign is completed, we tell our patients to wear their retainers only at night, but we also adjust teeth that may be hitting too heavy so that things already fit together better.  There are times when due to planned cosmetic crown and bridge work, we have to hold teeth together for the entire day until crown and bridgework can be completed to lock teeth into their positions.  Then we make new retainers for nights only.  We tell our patients that the only way to guarantee teeth will never move is to wear retainers nightly for the rest of their lives.  Metal lingual wires can be attached to anterior teeth on the tongue side to hold anterior teeth without a removable retainer.  Talk to your Invisalign provider for your specific situation.  Good Luck!

Wearing retainers after Invisilign or traditional braces are important.

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The reason to wear retainers after invisilign is to retain your teeth in their final position.  How long to wear them is based on how long you want to keep your teeth straight....hopefully forever.  During treatment, the teeth move based on the pressures applied to them.  The final tooth position should allow the teeth to occlude(mesh) well without any other forces acting on the teeth to move them more.  Nighttime wearing of a well fitting retainer ensures that consistant forces are applied to the teeth and therefore the teeth will stay in the proper final position.  To get your best chance of keeping your teeth in position and to protect your investment -Wear your retainers!

Jonathan Torma, DDS
New York Dentist

How Long Should a Patient Wear Their Invisalign Retainers?

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This is a great question.  The standard answer is all night for one year.  In more detail, it depends upon how far the teeth were moved, the direction of the movements and how long the treatment required to achieve the final result.  Especially if the teeth were rotated, it takes far longer for the forces on the roots to "Relax", to avoid a significant relapse.  A patient should keep their retainer for years because the teeth constantly change position during one's life.  Be sure to consult with your doctor on this vital part of your treatment.

Dustin Nelson, DDS
Pasadena Dentist

Retainer wear after Invisalign treatment can vary

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The answer to the question of how much time a person should wear retainers after Invisalign (or braces for that matter) depends on several factors that can vary among different patients.  However, it might be of help to understand how your doctor may assess the need for retainer wear.  He or she needs to look at the actual treatment result and decide: Is the malocclusion complete in it's correction or are there other changes that should be made?  Is the bite ideal enough to hold the correction?  Assuming the answer is positive regarding the treatment result and stability of the bite, then I would have the Invisalign patient wear the last aligners an additional 2 months full time, then go to nights only.  If they notice any undesirable tooth movements with the night wear, then they need to go back to full time another month or two.  They shoulld repeat this cycle untill the teeth are stable or consult with their orthodontist who may be able to help with the stability.  I hope this is helpful.

Retainers for life.

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The analogy we like to use with our patients is, once you work hard to get into shape and achieve the physique that you desire, you will have to work to maintain that forever. Once you stop, the lbs start packing on again. Once you move teeth with orthodontic treatment,  you will always have to retain them.  Your teeth may not relapse to where they  were originally, but they will indeed move if you are not using some type of retainer. We are retreating adults who didn't continue retention after orthodontics as a child/teen. 

Robert T. Rudman, DDS, MS
Denver Orthodontist

Are There Differing Opinions on How Frequent Retainers Should Be Worn After Invisalign?

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At our office we provide Invisalign treatment, and we always recommend our patients to wear their last set for 2 months straight after treatment is completed. After that you only need to wear your retainers at night for the rest of your smile. Keep in mind , do you really want to waste all the time and effort you went through while in braces? Not really, wearing retainers will always keep your beautiful smile! We understand that you need an orthodontic solution that can fit seamlessly into your hectic and demanding lifestyle. Invisalign® orthodontic appliances can be quickly and quietly removed for eating and drinking, brushing and flossing, or any other activity. Finally, you can have the perfect smile you deserve with the convenience you need.

Pamela Marzban, DDS
Fairfax Dentist

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.