Will My Teeth Go Back to Pre-Invisalign Look Without Retainer?

I went through Invisalign treatment and I was really good about wearing my aligners all the time. I am super happy with the results. Now that I’m through all that, I’m supposed to be wearing my retainer all the time… only I don’t. I don’t know why. I guess it just feels good to be without it and my teeth seem to have stayed straight since I finished Invisalign. I do wear my retainer at night and it still fits good, so I really don’t think they’ve shifted at all. Is it true that they will eventually go back to how they were or can I get away with only wearing my retainer sometimes? If not, how long can I get away without wearing it or how many hours can I skip it before I start to see a problem?



Dear Gwen,

There are a lot of dentists that will tell you that you have to keep up with your retainer for as long as you want to maintain the results you’ve achieved. This is fairly accurate. Your teeth have ligaments, which are the equivalent of elastic bands that help hold them in place. When you went through Invisalign, these bands were pulled, which is why you probably felt some soreness right after you switched aligners. The bands have “memory” and they want to pull your teeth back the way they were. In time, they will stabilize, but everyone’s body is different, so there’s no way to tell for sure when your teeth are going to stop trying to go back to the way they were.

At the same time, the shape of your face and jaw are changing. This happens with age to everyone, so your teeth will shift naturally because of this, too. That means that you will always have a battle to keep your straight smile, and the only way to keep it how you like it is to wear that retainer.

Your orthodontist may give you different instructions or may give you the green light to switch to nighttime use of the retainer at some point, but if he hasn’t done that, then you should do your best to follow his instructions. You can go without it and see how it goes, but you’ll likely find yourself going through orthodontic treatment again when you’re older.

This blog is sponsored byElgin dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin.

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