Invisalign Retainers: Post-treatment Advice | Smile Stories

Invisalign Retainers — Post-treatment Advice

So it’s the day you get to see your Invisalign results. Congratulations — you have completed your Invisalign treatment and now have straight teeth!

If you had Invisalign Express, you might have completed treatment in under six months, or if you had more complex orthodontic issues, you might have required over two years of Invisalign tooth straightening treatment. But however long it takes to get straight teeth with Invisalign, your teeth are now perfect and you want to keep them that way. That’s why one of the most critical parts of your Invisalign treatment is the final day when you have the big reveal of your picture-perfect smile.

But successful Invisalign treatment doesn’t end here.

It is now time to consider Invisalign retainers to ensure all your hard work and commitment to getting straight teeth isn’t wasted. Wearing Invisalign retainers after treatment is essential to prevent your teeth from moving back into their original position.

Here at Smile Stories, we want to ensure you feel empowered before making any important dental decisions. After all, we know how much your new smile matters and it’s about so much more than just Invisalign’s cost. Now is the start of your new smile confidence and we want you to enjoy your smile transformation for the rest of your life. 

So here is our complete guide to keeping your teeth straight with Invisalign retainers.

What to Expect after Invisalign Treatment

Teeth can be difficult beasts to tame!

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


During the teeth moving phase, your jaw bone becomes spongy, allowing your teeth to straighten and it takes some time for this bone to harden again and for your teeth to set securely in their new place. Teeth will also drift with age. In fact, changes in the position of your teeth are a normal part of ageing.

This is why retainers must be worn following Invisalign treatment to keep your teeth in their final perfect position and stop them from moving over time. 

Retainers are an important part of Invisalign treatment and perform various functions, including:

What Are the Different Types of Invisalign Retainers?

There is only one type of retainer made by Invisalign. The brand name is Vivera®  and these are the most popular retainers worn after completing Invisalign treatment. 

But let’s take a look at every type of retainer available to make sure you maintain straight teeth after Invisalign treatment. 

Invisalign’s Vivera® retainers

Invisalign’s Vivera® retainers

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

You’ll pay more for Vivera® retainers than another brand of clear removable retainer, but the unique plastic is 30% stronger and twice as durable as other standard clear retainers. This means they can last as long as 10 years.

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

After this, we recommend lifelong nighttime wear of your Invisalign retainers. But check with your dentist, as they may recommend a different regime based on your individual treatment.

Removable Invisalign retainers cover all your teeth, so there’s no risk of the back teeth moving. However, they will only work if you remember to wear them every night. If you don’t, your teeth will likely shift, reversing months or even years of Invisalign treatment.

Removable clear retainers

Removable clear retainers

Sometimes called Essix retainers, these are similar to the Invisalign retainers, making the transition from treatment to retention easy. After your Invisalign treatment is finished, the attachments are removed and a mould of your teeth is sent to the lab so your retainers can be made. This means they fit in the same way as Invisalign retainers; however, they may not last as long.

Because they are less expensive, you may prefer to opt for standard clear retainers in case they are lost, or you want the option to replace stained retainers with new ones.

Fixed Retainer

invisalign retainer

A fixed 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 should barely feel it.

After your last Invisalign aligner is removed, the wire is bonded to your teeth immediately.

The advantage of a fixed retainer is you don’t have to remember to put it in, so you can go about your daily business knowing your teeth are fixed and won’t move. However, fixed retainers can be tricky to clean. You’ll have to replace flossing with interdental brushes and will need to have regular hygienist appointments to remove plaque that may have built up. 

A fixed retainer is more suited to Invisalign treatment of the front six teeth only. However, if your treatment involved teeth further back, there’s still a chance these might move, so a clear retainer might be more appropriate to keep all of your teeth straight.

It’s also important to highlight that your front teeth will still relapse if you don’t wear a removable retainer over the top of your fixed retainer, albeit slower.

Hawley Retainer

hawley invisalign retainer

A Hawley retainer is a removable retainer made of thin metal wire and plastic. The plastic is shaped to fit either the roof of your mouth (if it is for the top teeth) or the inside of your lower teeth. Wires sit over the front six teeth while loops near your canines can be adjusted over time. 

This retainer needs to be handled carefully to avoid damaging it, although it can normally be repaired if it does break. However, although you will only need to wear the Hawley retainer at night, if you want to avoid metal, this retainer is probably not right for you.

Maintaining Invisalign Results 

As you can see, there are many forms of retainers that can help keep your beautiful straight teeth in check after you finish your Invisalign treatment. Would you like to know what we recommend to our patients after their Invisalign treatment is complete? 

Here it is:

  • A removable Vivera Invisalign retainer, that’s it!

You’d wear the removable retainer for 22 hours per day as soon as you finish straightening your teeth, then just at night time. 

Do this and you can be sure you’ll maintain your straight smile and have no moving teeth!

How Long Do You Need to Wear Retainers?

photo of a clock

Wearing Invisalign retainers is a lifelong commitment.

This means you will need to wear them regularly for the rest of your life if you want to guarantee your teeth will not move. Because your treatment is unique, how often you need to wear your retainer needs to be considered on an individual 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 to four nights. You will know when to wear it more often because it will feel tight, which means your teeth have moved.

It’s best to discuss this with your own Invisalign dentist to ensure you follow the best course of action when you complete your Invisalign treatment.

How Long Do Retainers Last?

broken retainer

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

Fixed retainers can last up to 5-10 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. If this happens, you must see your dentist straight away to prevent teeth from moving. The good news is it’s simple to reattach the wire. Over time the wire may also snap completely. If this happens, it’s time for a new fixed retainer. 

Removable retainers will also wear over time. The Vivera® retainers usually last longer than other clear retainers because the material has been developed to be more durable and wear-resistant. Vivera® Invisalign retainers typically last around 10 years. However, things like night grinding and poor cleaning will reduce how long they last. If your removable retainer breaks or looks worse for wear, make sure you contact an Invisalign dentist for a new one straight away. 

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 clean the wire gently with your toothbrush, as well as pass interdental brushes between your teeth to clean any plaque away, as 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, as this will take the shine off the Invisalign retainer and make it easier for dirt to stick to it.

Eventually, no matter how often you clean a clear retainer, dirt will build up. We recommend you remove this with Retainer Brite. How Do You Get Retainers Replaced after Invisalign?

Here at Smile Stories, we want to help make keeping your teeth straight as easy as possible and welcome anyone who needs the advice and expertise we have to offer.

Come and say hello to us on WhatsApp. We are open between 8 am and 8 pm Monday to Friday and 8 am to 5 pm on Saturday.


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.

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