Why You Need a Long-Term Retainer After Wearing Clear Aligner Braces

5 April 2017
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


The Invisalign clear aligner process is a relatively straightforward and simple one. It's also quick, with many people wearing the sets of aligners for only six months. This is common for teeth that are in good shape and are only a bit out of alignment. Even if you wear the aligners for only a short period of time, you will need to wear a retainer long term. Many cosmetic and general dentists even suggest that you wear your retainer at night for at least three to five days per week for the foreseeable future. Keep reading to find out why.

It Keeps Your Teeth From Naturally Shifting

You may not know this, but teenagers are typically informed to wear their retainers at night well into adulthood after traditional braces are removed. This is not something that is specific to Invisalign aligners. The teeth naturally shift both inward and forward over time. This is part of the aging process, and it is called aging dentition. The dental ridge also narrows over time, and this contributes to the shifting of the teeth.

Under normal circumstances, the teeth will move a fraction of a millimeter every year. This is often undetected, but it will result in the crowding of the teeth. The teeth can be realigned or gently shifted back into their proper position when a retainer is used. If you stick to wearing it, then the teeth will remain where they should be. 

It Allows the Bone to Solidify

If you are an adult who goes through dental straightening with the help of clear aligners, then your jaw bone will be very different than that of a child. The jaw grows continuously through adolescence and then solidifies and hardens around the 18 year mark. This means that the jaw is somewhat pliable and the teeth are easier to move around. Once the movement is over, the jawbone hardens around the teeth thanks to the natural end of puberty. This is what keeps the shifted teeth in position. 

If you are an adult who uses clear aligners, then a lengthy process will need to occur for the bone to harden around the teeth. This involves remodeling and the formation of new bone cells. The new formation may not produce dense bone matter and pressure on the teeth can cause the new cells to wear down more easily. This allows the teeth to shift back to their previous position.

The jaw will become more dense as the bone is able to continue forming cells. Long-term wear of your retainer allows the jaw to successfully build the dense material so your teeth can stay in place. 

For more information about wearing a retainer, check out orthodontists' sites like http://www.cresthillfamilydental.com.