By Dr. John White,

Owner of Braces by White

Just as your teeth gradually move to the desired straight position when using Invisalign clear aligners, they can also start moving after treatment—usually with undesired results.

I constantly remind my patients that straightening teeth is only half the battle; the other is keeping them straight. That’s why retainers are essential to the overall treatment plan.

After patients complete any orthodontic treatment, I fit them with a retainer to prevent teeth from shifting back to their old position.

While every patient is different and no one retainer is ideal for everyone, my preference is to use a clear removable retainer on top and a fixed, bonded retainer on the backside of the bottom teeth. The clear retainer is made with a more durable material than the Invisalign aligner trays. Therefore, it is not a good idea for patients to just wear their final aligner as a retainer since it will not hold up over time.

The general rule is the longer you wear a retainer the better. Although individual cases vary, it is usually recommended that you wear the retainer 12 hours per day for 6 months and then switch to nighttime use indefinitely.

Teeth have a tendency to shift throughout your lifetime, so the longer you help keep them in place after orthodontic treatment the more likely they are to stay in place.