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Keeping Your Teeth Straight After Clear Aligners

January 02, 2024

Clear aligners are a popular alternative to traditional braces because they straighten teeth without being super noticeable. You can also take them off for eating, brushing, and flossing, so there’s less worry about accidentally damaging them with normal wear and tear.

It may have felt like the day would never come, but here it is—finally, your teeth alignment treatment is complete. Now it’s important to take proper steps to prevent your teeth from shifting back. It can take up to a year for the periodontal ligaments (the tiny fibers that secure the teeth in the jaw) to adjust to their new position. Without proper retainer use, these ligaments may pull your teeth back to the position they were used to.

So what can you expect post-aligner life to be like? Here’s how to keep your teeth straight in the long-term.

Dental Retainers

A retainer is probably the most common solution for maintaining the new positioning of your teeth—they help retain all of you and your orthodontist’s hard work. The type of retainer may vary depending on your specific orthodontic needs and just personal preference.

You might find it difficult to speak clearly while wearing your retainer at first, but you’ll improve over time. You can also speed up the process by practicing talking, reading aloud, or singing.

Here are some general care tips for ensuring the longevity of your retainer:

  • Follow your orthodontist’s instructions for when and how long to wear it.
  • Avoid leaving it in the heat, such as a car dashboard in the summertime. Also keep it away from napkins, pockets, and the laundry room.
  • Take it out when you eat and always place it in its case--it’s easier to leave it behind or throw it away if it’s just sitting inconspicuously on your tray or plate. Also take it out if you go swimming.
  • Clean it daily with a good retainer cleanser. This helps reduce plaque buildup and kills odors.
  • Always store it in its case when not in use. Many a retainer has been lost to curious pets drawn to the smell.

In some situations, your final invisible aligner tray can be used as your retainer. But most of the time, your orthodontist will take impressions of your teeth to make you a custom, separate retainer, as they are generally stronger and more durable.

Make Tooth Maintenance a Priority

Taking proper care of your teeth is another key part of post-aligner life. Develop good oral hygiene habits such as brushing twice daily for two minutes at a time, flossing once a day, and avoiding super sugar-loaded snacks, soda, and juice that just feed oral bacteria.

Part of a healthy tooth care routine includes regular twice-a-year checkups at the dentist. The dentist has the equipment and skills to clean your teeth more thoroughly than you can at home, can give you tips for improving your oral hygiene, and can make sure you don’t have any cavities or other more serious dental issues.

Check out our other blog posts for more oral hygiene tips and tricks!

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