Invisalign Retainer – All You Need to Know

So it’s time to consider an Invisalign retainer. Congratulations, this means you now have straight teeth!

You’ve spent nine months straightening your teeth and your dentist tells you it’s time to take out the last aligner, remove your attachments and have the big reveal of your picture-perfect smile.

But remember, your treatment doesn’t end here.

It is now time to consider Invisalign retainers to stop all your hard work and commitment from being reversed. If you do nothing, your teeth will slowly move back into their original position.

Here at Smile Stories, we want to make sure you are informed before making any important dental decisions. So without further ado, here’s what you need to know about Invisalign and Invisalign retainers.

What Does an Invisalign Retainer Do?

Teeth can be difficult beasts to tame!

After your last aligner is removed, your teeth will love nothing more than to move back, reversing months of hard work. This movement is especially likely in the first few months after you finish your orthodontic treatment.

Why?

Because during the teeth moving phase, your jaw bone becomes spongy, allowing your teeth to straighten. It takes some time for this to harden again and your teeth to set in place. Teeth also drift with age and can crowd up over time.

So, think of retainers like a ship’s anchor. They work by fixing the teeth in their final perfect position and stop unwanted movements.

What Types of Retainers Are Out There?

1. Fixed Invisalign Retainer

invisalign retainer

This is a thin wire attached to the back of your front 6 teeth, from canine tooth to canine tooth.

A fixed Invisalign retainer is a thin wire attached to the back of your front six teeth, from canine tooth to canine tooth. The wire is not visible and hardly noticeable and within a few days, you’ll be used to it.

After your last Invisalign aligner is removed, the wire will be bonded straight away.

The advantage of this Invisalign fixed retainer is you don’t have to remember to put it in. You can go about your daily business knowing your teeth are fixed and won’t move. However, it can be tricky to clean. You’ll have to replace flossing with interdental brushes and need more regular hygienist appointments to stop tartar buildup. It also only fixes the front six teeth, so if your Invisalign treatment has moved teeth further back, there’s still a chance these can relapse.

2. Removable Retainers

removable retainer

Sometimes called “Essix retainers”, these are similar to the Invisalign aligners, making the transition from treatment to retention easy. After your Invisalign treatment is finished, the attachments are removed and a mould of your teeth will be taken. This is sent to the lab for your retainers to be made.  They will normally arrive back within a day or two.

Until the Invisalign retainers arrive, it’s important to wear your last Invisalign tray to stop your teeth from drifting. Normally, I’d recommend wearing the removable retainer for three months after treatment completion during both the day and night time.

After this, I’d recommend lifelong nighttime wear. But check with your dentist as they may recommend a different regime based on your treatment.

Removable Invisalign retainers are great as they cover all the teeth, so there’s no risk of the back ones moving. However, they only work if you remember to wear them. If you don’t, your teeth will move back.

3. Invisalign’s Vivera® Retainers

This is a removable Invisalign retainer made by Align Technology, the company behind Invisalign.

You’ll pay more than for a standard removable retainer, but the increased quality of the plastic means it should be stronger and more durable. You should get longer use out of these than standard removable retainers. They’re 30% stronger and will usually last 9-10 years.

4. Hawley Retainer

hawley invisalign retainer

These are also removable retainers. They consist of wires covering the front surfaces of your teeth, clasps on the back teeth and plastic over the roof of your mouth.

They can be adjusted over time and are durable. However, the Hawley retainer is not cosmetic due to the metal on show. Therefore if you want to avoid any metal braces, these might not be right for you.

My Golden Combination

So you have seen the different options. As you can see, there are many forms of Invisalign retainers that can help keep your beautiful straight teeth in check. Nevertheless, would you like to know what I recommend to my patients after their Invisalign treatment? Here it is:

You’d have a fixed retainer placed on the front six teeth.

We’d also make a removable Invisalign retainer, which you’d only need to wear at night.

With this winning combination, you can be sure you’ll maintain your straight smile and have no orthodontic relapse!

How Long Do You Need to Wear Retainers?

photo of a clock

Wearing Invisalign retainers is a lifelong commitment.

This doesn’t mean wearing them 24/7 for the rest of your life, but it does mean wearing them at regular intervals for the rest of your life if you want to guarantee no relapse. Teeth are always prone to drifting at any time during your life and each person is unique and should be considered individually basis.

For example, you may begin just wearing a removable retainer. At first, you’d wear this all day and night. Then you’d move just to nights. Then it may be possible to wear it every two-four nights depending on if it feels tight when you put it in. If it feels tight, your teeth have moved, so you’d need to wear it more regularly.

It’s best to discuss this with your own orthodontist or dentist to ensure the best course of treatment as each individual is different.

How Long Do Retainers Last?

broken retainer

This depends on which type of Invisalign retainer you have and how well you look after it. Nothing lasts forever and you will have to replace your Invisalign retainers at some point.

Fixed retainers can last up to 10 years but may need some adjustment or repair along the way. They are glued on with dental cement and while this is strong, you may find the wire could peel off a tooth from time to time. You must see your dentist straight away if this happens as this tooth can move, but it’s simple to reattach it.

Over time the wire may also snap completely. If this happens, it’s time for a new one.

Removable retainers will also wear over time. The Vivera retainers usually last longer than standard removable retainers because the material has been developed to be more durable and wear-resistant. We order the Vivera Invisalign retainers in threes, and you can expect these to last you roughly 10 years. Things like night grinding and poor cleaning will reduce how long they will last.

If your removable retainer breaks or looks the worse for wear, again, make sure you contact your dentist for a new one.

How do you clean Invisalign retainers?

how to clean invisalign retainers

Fixed retainers need to be routinely cleaned when you brush your teeth. You need to ensure you clean the wire gently with your toothbrush, as well as pass interdental brushes between your teeth to clean any plaque away. Plaque stuck between the retainer can lead to decay.

Removable retainers should be removed and cleaned at least twice daily. Use plain warm or soapy water and a toothbrush, but never toothpaste. Toothpaste will take the shine off the Invisalign retainer and make it easier for dirt to stick to it.

Eventually, dirt will build up over time. I’d recommend you remove this with Retainer Brite.

How Do You Get Retainers after Invisalign?

If you would like fixed, removable, or the golden combination of retainers replaced, please get in touch and let our friendly staff help you in your quest for lifetime smile confidence.

Remember that getting the smile you have always dreamed of takes time and dedication. Remembering to pop your retainer in before bed is a change in your lifestyle. Here at Smile Stories, we want to help make that change as easy as possible with all the advice and expertise we have to offer.

Contact Smile Stories for more information on Invisalign and let’s start your smile journey together.


AUTHOR

Dr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) is a dentist who qualified with honours. Based in the Poole and Bournemouth area, he has a keen interest in orthodontics and aesthetic dentistry and is a certified Invisalign provider.