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Can My Teeth Shift After My Invisalign Treatment?

Can My Teeth Shift After My Invisalign Treatment?

Congratulations! You’ve completed your Invisalign® treatment plan, and your final aligner has just come off. Your teeth are straight with a perfectly aligned bite, and your smile is Instagram-ready, and you want to keep it that way. 

Once you’ve worn every Invisalign aligner in your orthodontic series, it’s time to shift gears and think about retention, also known as relapse prevention. Why? After being subjected to gentle, applied pressure for many months, your partially softened bone tissue makes your teeth prone to easy drifting movements back to their old positions.  

At DentAlign NYC, Kenn Kakosian, DDS, PhD in the Midtown East neighborhood of Manhattan, has everything you need — including your first set of Vivera® clear retainers — to help you keep your flawless smile for life. Here’s what to expect in the lifelong retention phase. 

Understanding post-orthodontic relapse 

Retainer use is a critical part of orthodontic after-care for one simple reason: The mechanisms that allow Invisalign to reposition your teeth gradually also leave them vulnerable to relapse as soon as you stop wearing your aligner trays. Let’s take a closer look. 

The science of orthodontic care

Your teeth connect to your upper and lower jawbones with a resilient and supportive fibrous membrane called the periodontal ligament. This malleable tissue stretches on one side and compresses on the other as your Invisalign aligners apply gentle, precise pressure. 

Changing, responsive bone tissue

In response to your stretching periodontal ligaments and shifting teeth, your underlying bone tissue becomes softer and spongier, helping facilitate tooth repositioning. 

Supporting bone tissue reformation

Once your teeth reach their desired positions, their periodontal ligaments readjust, and new bone tissue fills the gap around each socket to help them maintain proper alignment. 

But this remodeling process can’t happen without assistance: Your ligaments, jawbone, and teeth need consistent support to maintain your new smile until they become fully trained to preserve it on their own.   

Retainer wear “sets” your Invisalign smile

Wearing a retainer after your final aligner comes off gives your jawbone tissue the reinforcement it requires to hold your teeth more firmly in their new, correct positions as it rebuilds itself to accommodate this new alignment. 

 Without a set period of intensive retainer wear on the heels of any form of orthodontic care — whether Invisalign or traditional wire-and-bracket braces — your teeth would shift back out of alignment. There are two distinct periods for retainer wear:  

Early retainer wear

Teeth are most vulnerable to drifting and relapse during the first year after orthodontic treatment, especially in the first few months. For this reason, you should wear your custom, removable retainers (which look just like clear aligners) for at least 22 hours a day for the first six months after your final treatment aligner. 

If your teeth still need intensive support at the six-month mark, we may recommend a further three to six months of round-the-clock retainer wear. If they appear stable, we may clear you to move on to the maintenance phase.  

Long-term retainer wear

After several months of intensive retainer wear, it’s time to enter the maintenance phase. In this lifelong smile-preserving phase, you only wear your retainer at night, as you sleep. 

Long-term orthodontic retention usually begins with consistent nightly retainer wear. It gradually tapers to consistent wear, meaning you may eventually only need to wear your retainer three or four nights each week to maintain your Invisalign results.  

Just like another set of Invisalign aligners 

While you have a selection of retainer types following orthodontic care, we recommend Vivera clear retainers to preserve your smile results. Vivera clear retainers are made by the same company that creates Invisalign aligners and offers the following: 

Vivera clear retainers come in multiple set packs, so you won’t have to worry about going without a retainer if you lose a set. 

Do you have questions about retainer wear following Invisalign? We have answers. Call (716) 350-0665 to book your Invisalign consultation with Dr. Kakosian at DentAlign NYC or request a visit online today.

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