Caring for Your New Smile After Invisalign Treatment
Invisalign is an excellent treatment for providing you with the smile of your dreams. The removable aligners can discreetly straighten the teeth of adults and may also be suitable for some older teenagers. On average, treatment generally takes a year to complete during which time you will need to wear your aligners just about all the time. However, once your teeth are beautifully straightened then it’s important that you look after your new smile. Your orthodontic treatment will continue even after your teeth are straight.
When you visit Ballard Orthodontics for your initial consultation for Invisalign, one thing Dr. Rick Ballard will need to discuss with you is what will happen once your initial orthodontic treatment is completed. It’s important to be aware of how to take care of your newly straightened teeth, making sure that you can enjoy the results of all your hard work for many years to come. The most important part of ongoing orthodontic care is ensuring you wear your retainer.
What Will My Retainers Look like?
Your Invisalign retainers will look very similar to your aligners and will be made from the same BPA-free plastic. They will fit comfortably over your teeth and you should find them very easy to use. These retainers are removable, just like your aligners and will be made using the same advanced digital technology. If you would prefer a different option that will be permanently fixed in place, then you might want to discuss the option of a fixed retainer with Dr. Ballard. This normally consists of a very thin wire that is permanently bonded to the inside surfaces of your front teeth and it might be worth investigating if you feel you may forget to wear your removable retainers. One thing to bear in mind about having a fixed retainer is that you will need to spend a little more time thoroughly cleaning around the wire to remove any trapped food and plaque.
Why Do I Need to Wear a Retainer after Orthodontic Treatment?
During orthodontic treatment your teeth will have been moved into brand-new positions which affect all the bone and tissues surrounding them. Once your teeth are straight, it takes time for the bone and tissues to settle down and to stabilize. It can take a year or even longer for these tissues to become fully stable and if your teeth were significantly repositioned, the time required might be even longer. This might be the case if you had large spaces in between your teeth before you began treatment. Initially, once treatment is completed there is a very high chance of an orthodontic relapse if you fail to wear your retainers as directed by our orthodontist. When someone has an orthodontic relapse, teeth begin to drift back to their original positions and when this happens it may be necessary to wear your braces all over again, wasting all your hard work and effort, and of course your money. Wearing your retainers is a much easier option.
Will I Need to Wear Retainers All the Time?
Immediately after treatment is completed and for up to a year afterward, it’s likely Dr. Ballard will recommend you wear your retainers all the time. Once your teeth have settled down and the bone and gum tissue surrounding them has properly stabilized, he will reassess this time and may suggest that you only wear your retainers at night or at least for a certain number of hours each day to ensure your teeth will not move.
How Long Will I Need to Wear Retainers?
The tissues and bone surrounding your teeth are capable of remodeling and changing throughout your lifetime. This is why Invisalign treatment is often highly successful for older adults and its also why broken bones can mend. As we age, teeth naturally shift position regardless of whether you have received orthodontic treatment in the past. To help avoid unwanted tooth movements, removable retainers can be worn overnight for a longer period of time or even for the rest of your life, while fixed retainers can be used for five years or more.
How Will My Retainer Affect My Everyday Life?
Just like your clear aligners, you will need to remove your retainers whenever you eat or need to brush and floss your teeth, or when you play contact sports, as a well-fitting sports mouthguard will provide greater protection for your beautifully straight teeth. Whenever you remove your retainer, make sure you thoroughly clean it and we will provide full guidelines on how to keep your retainer clean and fresh. When it’s not being worn, make sure you store your retainer correctly and if you have a family dog, keep it well away from their jaws as dogs often find retainers make extremely good chew toys. If you have opted for a fixed retainer, then we will show you how to clean around the wire using dental floss and a floss threader. With a fixed retainer, it’s also better not to bite into hard objects with your front teeth as this could break or dislodge the wire.
Keeping Your Smile Looking Its Best with Regular Dental Care
It is important that you look after your teeth and that you brush at least twice a day and floss once-a-day. This straightforward routine will only take a few minutes and is the easiest way to continue enjoying good dental health. If your teeth were significantly out of alignment before treatment, you could find your teeth are even easier to look after now they are straight.
While having beautifully straight teeth may make it easier to brush and floss thoroughly, it is still vital that you visit your dentist for regular dental examinations and cleanings. Without regular dental care, there’s a risk you could develop tooth decay or gum disease and according to Ideal Family Dentistry, "Gum disease is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults...". Regular hygiene appointments will remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, reducing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease while ensuring your smile continues to sparkle. Regular dental care is also important, so your dentist can check for other signs of problems and can complete oral cancer screenings. Clinical research has shown links between poor oral health and other serious health conditions, so looking after your teeth has a protective effect on your general health.
You will need to come and see us here at Ballard Orthodontics every so often. These occasional checkups are just an opportunity for our orthodontist to check the positions of your teeth and to ensure your retainer is still fitting correctly. Following these simple guidelines will help ensure that you enjoy your smile for life.