Life After Invisalign Treatment
Congratulations! You have now completed Invisalign treatment and you have been given a set of retainers to wear the rest of your life. Ughh!!! What a downer – wouldn’t it be nice if your teeth could be set in stone after orthodontic treatment and you would never have to worry about them moving again. Just like putting a book on the bookshelf and knowing it was always in the same place! If only that were true!!!
No worries . . . you made it through the difficult part – straightening your teeth while wearing your aligners 20 to 22 hours per day. You developed a lot of good habits while undergoing Invisalign treatment and there is no reason to give up those habits now that you are in the retention phase of your care.
Here are four tips for conquering life after Invisalign!
1. Wear Your Retainers Consistently
First and foremost, wear your retainers consistently for 8 to 10 hours a day for at least the first 6 months. This will give the fibers that interconnect your teeth a chance to reconfigure and readjust to the new tooth positions. Think of these fibers as rubber bands that get stretched during orthodontic tooth movement. Enough time needs to pass for the fibers to reorganize into a more passive state. After 6 months, wearing retainers at night is sufficient and if you miss a night here or there – no big deal. The best feedback to let you know if you are wearing your retainers enough is if they feel tight upon initial placement or if your teeth feel sore in the morning after wearing the retainers all night long. Any pressure or tooth tenderness means you need more hours with your retainers (teeth are shifting)! Also, be sure to brush your retainers thoroughly every morning so they stay fresh and clean.
2. Keep Up With Cleaning
Remember how diligent you were cleaning your teeth before putting your aligners back in your mouth? Your teeth were probably never cleaner nor your gums more healthy. Keep the good times rolling in your mouth! The basic recommendation in the dental community is to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. But that is the minimum level of home care. Ideally, keep up with cleaning your teeth after each meal and floss at least once a day or whenever your feel food stuck between your teeth. A good mouthwash can also be a benefit. Look for a mouthwash that is alcohol free, has fluoride, and is approved by the American Dental Association.
In addition to taking care of your teeth on a daily basis, don’t forget about seeing your dentist at least twice a year for semi-annual check ups and cleanings. This will allow for professional teeth cleanings and catch any potential dental problems in their infancy before little issues become expensive and painful problems. Sometimes the dentist or hygienist will recommend more frequent recalls if you are someone who builds tartar or has challenges keeping your teeth clean. Be sure to follow their recommendations! However, keeping your teeth clean on a daily basis should be a lot easier now that they are aligned!
3. Stay Away from Sugary and Starchy Snacks
Another good habit that was developed during Invisalign treatment was the reduction of snacking throughout the day. Snacking per se is not bad but snacking on certain foods – those that are high in starches and sugars – definitely creates an environment in our mouth that increases plaque, which can lead to tooth decay. Besides, many times we snack even though we are not hungry – it is just because food is present. Most of us abstained from snacking while undergoing Invisalign treatment because it was too much of a hassle – so consider declining that office doughnut next time! Your teeth and waistline will thank you!!
4. Now is the Time to Make Cosmetic Changes
Another consideration now that your teeth are straight is teeth whitening. There are some good over the counter products for teeth whitening (Crest 3DWhitestrips) but more effective teeth whitening can be accomplished in the dental office or at home with bleaching trays made by your dentist. One thing to remember about teeth whitening is that teeth can become very sensitive so it is important to start slowly. Otherwise, you won’t be eating your favorite ice cream for a while!
One last post orthodontic plan of action is to talk to your orthodontist or dentist about manicuring uneven edges on the front teeth (incisors). These chips and wear facets developed from the daily grinding due to your old bite but are now more evident with the alignment of your teeth. Re-leveling the edges is easy, painless and safe. And, it can make a huge cosmetic difference! Just one more cosmetic trick to make your smile really pop!
If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics to schedule a visit with Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. Dr. Tanner will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget.
A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!