Anyone who’s had braces knows that getting your braces off doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done with treatment. It just means the visible signs of smile improvement are removed from your mouth.
With Invisalign, the portion of treatment where you’re wearing your aligners is called active treatment. I’m not sure what it’s called when you’re no longer doing that….inactive treatment, maybe? Even though your aligners are gone, one thing’s for sure—there are things that need to be done to ensure your teeth stay put.
Dr. Wedell let me know up front that getting Invisalign would mean wearing a retainer for the rest of my life. That might not sound like something you want to deal with, but I chucked my retainer from my childhood orthodontic experience in my late 20s and that resulted in my needing to get my teeth straightened out again. Believe me, you want to wear your retainer.
I will be wearing my retainer every night for a year, because it takes about that long before your teeth really stop moving and seat themselves in your gums properly. After a year, Dr. Wedell will have me wear it every other night until we get down to one night a week. That’s not so bad.
I have an added twist because of project tooth elevator. I still have a bracket on one of my lower front teeth. Dr. Wedell said in about 6 months he’ll have me come in on a Tuesday and he will put a smaller attachment point on that tooth. Then on Thursday I’ll come in and get a new retainer made to fit the smaller attachment point. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s nice because the bracket stands out a lot more than the attachments do. At the 1 year mark, I can have a new retainer made without any attachment points at all.
So despite being “done,” I’ll still be seeing Dr. Wedell regularly to make sure my teeth don’t go wandering out of place. It may not be active, but it’s still treatment.
Disclaimer: Lisa Traylor is a freelance blogger and designer who is receiving a free Invisalign treatment in exchange for these posts. She’s completed her 13 aligners, all 3 sets of refinement aligners and just got her retainers! Read more on how she’s doing with her treatment, follow her @lisawtraylor or on LinkedIn.