You did it! You finally finished your aligner treatment. It's the moment you've been waiting for since before you got your first set of aligners.
First of all, congratulations. The journey has not been easy, and we're happy you finally made it to the end of the treatment. Now, it's time to start aligner aftercare.
Maybe, you just got regular braces off, our tips below will help you as well if you are moving into clear aligners!
Taking care of your new smile plays an extremely important role in preserving the treatment's results for years to come. If you do not follow your orthodontist's recommendations, your teeth may move right back to where they were before you started the process. Follow their directions closely, and take a look at these tips about what you should do after using Invisalign or any other aligner treatment to keep your smile looking pretty.
1. Wear Your Retainer
Wear your retainer, wear your retainer, wear your retainer.
You cannot hear those words enough since it's the most important of all the clear retainer tips.
If you don't wear your retainer, you'll have gone through the entire aligner process for nothing. Your teeth will just shift back to where they were before you started, and the process will have all been for nothing. Wearing your retainer at night keeps your teeth in place. If you neglect to wear the retainer for even one week, your teeth could move enough to the point that you can't get the retainer back on. If you can't get it on, you won't be able to reverse the shifting that's already begun.
2. Clean Your Retainer
Let's be honest — without continuous, meticulous care, retainers can get real gross, real fast.
You can get plaque build-up, tartar, bacteria and food residue on the retainer just from regular use. Wearing a dirty retainer has the same effect as applying a bacteria and plaque-filled paste to your teeth every night. You'll get odors, discoloration, film and mineral deposits all over the retainer without daily cleaning and a weekly deep cleaning. That's why it's vital to understand how to clean clear retainers.
With all the gunk, sometimes, brushing alone isn't enough to clean clear retainers. That's where products like WhiteFoam can help you clean your aligners on the go, so you can get a continuous clean without stopping to soak or bring a brush to work.
3. Wear a Mouthguard If Needed
If you grind your teeth at night, you could damage both your teeth and your retainer.
Sleep bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a sleep movement disorder where you clench your jaw or grind your teeth while asleep. This disorder can cause headaches, jaw pain, increased snoring, worsened sleep apnea and damaged teeth, depending on the severity. Some cases are so severe that you can wake yourself or your partner because of how loud you grind your teeth.
Over time, clenching your jaw or grinding while you sleep could wear down, cause holes, or crack the retainer. Retainers are thin since they are designed to hold your teeth in place, not provide protection. The plastic does provide protection against damage while grinding, but not if there are holes or other damage. To give your retainer a break from abuse at night, talk to your dentist if you think you are grinding or clenching at night.
Custom mouthguards get fitted to the precise shape and position of your teeth and will provide the level of protection your teeth need while keeping them in place. Since it helps keep your teeth aligned as well, you can use the mouthguard as a total replacement to the retainer or wear the retainer when you are not wearing the mouth guard, for example, evenings before bed. Always talk to your dentist about your options before making any changes, because a boil-and-bite, over-the-counter mouthguard won't hold your teeth in place or provide the right protection for your teeth.
4. Brush Your Teeth Before Bed
Washing your retainers throughout the day plays an important role in keeping your mouth clean, but it's also essential to brush your teeth before bed. Your retainer traps any food you have stuck on your teeth and doesn't let the enzymes in saliva do their job to break down the food particles left in your teeth. Keeping that food on your teeth can lead to accelerated tooth decay.
When you take the time to brush your teeth, you remove most, if not all, of any food remnants left in your teeth. With clean teeth and a clean retainer, you will less likely encounter problems like cavities down the road.
5. Keep Regular Dentist Visits
Even though you no longer need to see an orthodontist, keeping your regular check-ups with your dentist will help you maintain a healthy mouth. Your dentist can give you tips on living with clear retainers and aligner aftercare. They help keep you accountable, and they will alert you to any problems as they arise. If they see plaque or shifting teeth, they can let you know how you can address the situation before it gets any worse.
This way, you can stay on top of your dental care, rather than playing catch-up when something goes wrong.
6. Keep Your Retainers Safe (And the Molds!)
Unlike aligners, which you keep for one to two weeks before switching to the next one, you keep your retainers forever - or at least for 3 to 4 years before a replacement.
An important part of retainer care is keeping them safe. Avoid misplacing them by having a designated spot for them in your home. If you put them on at night, store them in a drawer near your toothbrush. Keep them in their case when not in use.
When choosing a spot to store them, ensure no four-legged friends can access them. To a cat, a loose retainer looks like something fun to knock into the toilet, and to a dog, it looks like a fun little chew toy to munch on. Always put it back in its case, and always keep the case in a safe spot.
When traveling, keep the case with your toiletries or other valuables, so you don't misplace it during your trip.
If you misplace or ruin a retainer, contact your orthodontist right away to get a replacement. The sooner they can get one made for you, the less time your teeth have to shift. A lapse in 1-3 weeks will not cause shifting too severe your new retainer can't handle.
Typically orthodontists will give you two sets of retainers, one as a backup. Keep the backup somewhere you can remember, and if you end up using it, remember to contact your orthodontist about ordering a second set for back-up.
It is common for orthodontists and aligner companies to send you a final mold of your teeth that can be used in the future for replacement retainers. It is very important to keep this in a safe place. The mold is of your smile fresh out of aligner treatment so it is as straight as you will ever have it. If your retainer is ruined, and you do not have your mold, you'll have to have a new mold created of your smile. This typically comes at an additional cost and by then, your teeth may have shifted, which means your retainer will be molded from the slightly shifted smile - the new retainer will keep your smile in place from shifting any more, but won't bring your old smile back. Depending on the time-lapse between the loss of retainer and the new mold taken, you may need to go through an aligner process to get them back to the way they were before. If you are missing a tooth, this could cause your teeth to shift faster than normal as well.
7. Invest in Multiple Retainer Cases
Sometimes, you need to throw a case in the dishwasher. Sometimes, you lose a case. Sometimes, your case cracks.
Whatever happens, it's always good to have a few retainer cases on hand. Keep one in your bag, bathroom, partner or friend's house, car and any other spot where you might get caught with your retainer. When getting extra cases, buy ones you like. Spring for the one with the nicer design, because if you like its appearance, you're more likely to bring it with you when you leave your home.
After Invisalign, Keep Your Retainer Clean With EverSmile
The most important part of your care after aligner treatment is keeping it clean. After using SmileDirectClub, a clean retainer or any other aligner treatment gives you the best chance of keeping your smile straight and healthy.
That's why EverSmile offers products like WhiteFoam to keep your aligners and retainers clean by killing bacteria build-up. Plus, WhiteFoam whitens your teeth over time for an even brighter smile. Keep your mouth clean on the go with the only wearable aligner cleaner on the market.