Caring for Your Smile After Invisalign
Here at Charlotte Advanced Orthodontics, we love nothing more than seeing someone successfully complete treatment with Invisalign. As the end of your orthodontic treatment draws to a close, you’re probably really excited to see the final outcome and to begin enjoying your lovely new smile. After your dedication to successfully completing treatment, you will want to ensure that the results of treatment last for life. To do this, you must follow Dr. Christina Pepper’s instructions on caring for your new smile.
Adjusting to Life without Aligners
Initially, once treatment is completed then your teeth could feel slightly sensitive and you may need an adjustment period once treatment is completed. During this time, it can be helpful to avoid very hard or very crunchy foods or foods that take a significant amount of chewing. This is just while your teeth are settling down immediately after treatment and as you begin to get used to wearing your retainers which are an important part of the treatment process.
One of the things Dr. Pepper will have discussed with you prior to treatment is the need to wear retainers once you have finished wearing your aligners. This is non-negotiable and is standard for all types of orthodontic treatment, and there is a very good reason why wearing retainers is so important.
Why You Must Wear Retainers after Invisalign
Your teeth are supported by your jawbone and when you have Invisalign treatment, gentle forces are used to gradually shift your teeth into new positions. This isn’t easy as each tooth is surrounded by bone and to move, the bone on one side must gradually become resorbed. Once your tooth is in the correct position, new bone begins to grow around the tooth which helps to stabilize it and to ensure it is held in place. It takes quite some time for your body to remodel bone in this way and the entire process can take between nine and 12 months. This means when you stop wearing your Invisalign aligners, the bone is still in the process of remodeling, but your teeth still have a “memory” of where they used to be situated. If you were to merely stop treatment, they would gradually shift back to their original positions, but this is prevented when you wear your retainers. There’s no need to worry about wearing retainers, especially after Invisalign because they are made from the same BPA-free plastic and are very thin, light and comfortable.
How Long Will I Need to Wear Retainers?
Initially, Dr. Pepper may suggest you wear your retainers most of the time. The exact time required each day will depend on several different factors that include the complexity of your orthodontic treatment and your age. After a while, this time can be reduced, and you may only need to wear your retainers at night. A year or so after treatment, it can still be best to wear your retainers a few times each week, ideally for the rest of your life. This might seem extreme, but it will help ensure that your teeth remain beautifully straight, especially as you get older.
What Happens to Teeth Positions with Age?
As you age, your teeth will naturally shift position. This movement occurs very slowly and may take many years to affect the alignment of your teeth, but over time it could mean your smile gradually becomes more crooked. Wearing your retainers will prevent this from happening.
How Frequently Will I Need New Retainers?
Just like any type of appliance, you will need to replace your retainers every so often. The frequency will depend on how well you take care of them and if you have a dog, it’s definitely a good idea to keep your retainers well out of their way. Dogs seem to enjoy using retainers as chew toys because they are attracted to the smell of saliva.
What Else Do I Need to Do to Keep My Smile Looking Great?
Other than wearing your retainers, all you really need do is to make sure you keep up with a good oral hygiene routine. If your teeth were significantly out of position before orthodontic treatment, then this could be easier than before. Often teeth that are significantly overlapping or overcrowded can be tricky to keep clean so if you struggled to floss beforehand, it should now be much more straightforward. To keep your teeth and gums disease-free, it’s essential to make sure you brush twice a day and that you floss once-a-day. You probably followed this routine or even brushed your teeth more frequently during orthodontic treatment so hopefully, it will be second nature to maintain excellent oral hygiene.
Keep up with Your Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings
Your regular dental checkups and cleanings are another vital part of your preventative dental care plan. You should always visit your dentist as frequently as they recommend, even if your teeth seem problem-free. Often when small problems begin to develop they cause few, if any symptoms, but at this stage, they are far easier and cheaper to treat. When Dr. Benjamin Hull a dentist in Sandpoint, Idaho talks to his patients about their regular dental checkups, he often says, “This is perhaps one of the most important appointments as it will give you… a clear picture of what your dental condition is.”
Why Hygiene Treatments are Vital
Most people need hygiene treatments every six months and they are essential even if you brush and floss thoroughly each day. It’s all too easy to miss out certain areas, especially around the gum line and in between teeth. These are the very areas most at risk of developing cavities or the first signs of gum disease. Besides, who doesn’t love that feeling of having beautifully clean teeth? Hygienists are also great for patient education and can give you lots of useful advice and practical help on how best to care for your teeth and gums at home. If using dental floss seems like too much of a chore and you find you are not flossing as frequently as you should, ask your hygienist about alternative tools to try. Options include interdental brushes as well as electric water flossers such as a Water Pik. These are quick and easy to use and will only take a minute or two each day.
Enhancing Your Smile with Teeth Whitening
This is something that many patients like to do once they’ve completed their Invisalign treatment and it can help to enhance a beautifully straight smile. If you do opt for teeth whitening, it’s always better to have a professional whitening treatment. Teeth whitening is a dental treatment and when products are incorrectly used they have the power to harm your smile. Why take the chance when it’s looking so beautifully straight and healthy? With the proper care, you can keep it looking that way for a very long time and hopefully for life.