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Clear aligners, like those we offer from ClearCorrect, are a discreet and effective treatment method to achieve a straight, beautiful smile. After investing both time and money, the last thing you want to happen is to lose all the great improvement that was made shortly after you finish treatment with aligners. This is why your dentist will be recommending that you follow up your active treatment with the use of retainers.

Retainers are critical to the long-term success of your orthodontic treatment. So, unless you understand why wearing retainers after clear aligners is so important, it may be tempting to bring yours home and just store it away in a drawer. And that is definitely not something that you should do.

In this article, we’ve covered why and how long you need retainers after aligners, as well as the answers to some frequently asked questions about retainers.


Your Treatment with ClearCorrect  

Before we jump into exactly why retainers after clear aligners are so important, let’s recap the treatment process of ClearCorrect. Compared to traditional braces, clear plastic aligners (like ClearCorrect) offer a much more discreet and comfortable treatment option to address crooked, crowded, and gapped teeth and other bite/alignment issues.

The nearly invisible aligners will be custom-made to fit your teeth and mouth and treatment will last between 8 and 14 months, depending on the severity of your malocclusion (crooked/misaligned teeth). During your treatment period, your teeth will gently move and align based on the 3D model created during your treatment planning with your dentist.

Once you are nearing the end of your active treatment with the ClearCorrect aligners is when your dentist will discuss the options available to you for retainers. The type of retainers you choose will then be custom-crafted for your new smile, both your upper and lower teeth (if both were treated). In many cases, your retainers will look very similar to your clear aligners

Make sure to check out our in-depth article on ClearCorrect for more information on treatment, what to expect, etc.

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Retainers Maintain Support for Your Teeth After Aligners 

It will be no surprise that once your clear aligner treatment process is finished, you’ll be proudly showing off your straight, beautiful smile every chance you can. But, the bones and gums around your teeth need time to adjust until they’re strong enough to securely hold your teeth in place. So, this proper tooth alignment that you will be enjoying at that time needs to be protected. Especially during the initial period after your treatment is over. 

Retainers help “retain” your teeth and keep them secure and supported in their new, desired positions. This is the most important role that retainers play. If you do not wear your retainers, your teeth could move back out of the proper alignment and you will have lost all of that work that was accomplished with your ClearCorrect treatment

At this point, you may be wondering, how long do you need retainers after aligners?


How Long Retainers Will Need to Be Worn After Aligners 

The duration and frequency of wearing retainers vary from patient to patient. This will be something that you and your dentist will discuss before you receive your retainers. But, generally speaking, the initial protocol that is typically recommended is to wear the retainers every day for 18 to 22 hours a day for 3 to 6 months. After that, most patients will be able to stop wearing the retainers during the day. 

Usually around the one-year mark after your active treatment with aligners is over and you’ve been wearing retainers, the bone surrounding your teeth should be ready to properly hold everything in place without as much additional support. So at this point, your dentist may adjust your retainer schedule and advise you to wear them only at night or even just 3 – 5 days a week.

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Remember, though, that your teeth will continue to shift in your mouth throughout your lifetime. So, to adequately prevent your teeth from shifting out of proper alignment, you should continue to wear retainers for the rest of your life. Even with healthy gums and strong bones, as you age, your teeth naturally start to move slightly inward and forward. Your retainer will continue to help minimize this gradual movement, helping to prevent a sunken appearance on your face. You may not appreciate your retainers at first, but you certainly will over time.


Retainers Help Protect Your Investment & Results

As you can see, retainers play a very important role in protecting your investment in time, money, and the beautiful results you’ll get from orthodontic treatment with ClearCorrect clear aligners. As your bones get stronger, you will not have to wear your retainers as frequently, but it is definitely something that should be continued throughout your life.

Have questions about retainers that aren’t answered below? Our team at Radomile Family Dental Care in Drexel Hill is here to help! Two of our main goals are to help you achieve a smile you are proud to show off and to help you maintain optimal dental health. So contact us today with any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment! 


FAQs About Retainers: 

What is it like first wearing a retainer?

When you first start wearing retainers, give yourself time to get accustomed to them. For example, you may feel a little different pressure on your teeth than you have the last few weeks. Also, for the first several days after you are fitted for your retainer, your mouth may produce excess saliva. Some people feel like their speech is slightly affected for a few days, as well. These are all things that will go away or will no longer be noticeable after the first week.

However, your retainers shouldn’t cause you significant discomfort. If they are rubbing on your gum tissue, causing extreme pressure on an area of your teeth, or another painful scenario, schedule a follow-up appointment with your dentist ASAP so they can check if your retainer needs adjustment.


What is the best way to take care of my retainer?

The best way to clean a removable retainer is by regularly soaking it in distilled water with a denture-cleaning tablet. Another effective method is to soak it in a mix of distilled water and baking soda. Gently and thoroughly brush the retainer with toothpaste after it has soaked and then immediately put it back in your mouth. You do not want to let it dry out! 

A bit more care will be involved if you have a fixed retainer. In this case, use floss and a Waterpik to properly clean between the teeth and remove food particles. Regular dental visits are still very important with retainers, so make sure you stay on top of your schedule of check-up appointments to help maintain good oral hygiene.


What other advice do you have about taking the best care of my retainers?

Here are some additional tips for taking care of your retainers:

  • There are only 2 places you should keep retainers: In your mouth or in their case!
  • Always carry a retainer case with you.
  • Don’t stick your retainers in a pocket or purse. 
  • Don’t take them out and wrap them in a napkin. This is the most common way they mistakenly end up in the trash.
  • Keep retainers away from pets.
  • Keep retainers away from heat. A retainer can lose its custom shape if it’s left in a hot car, near/on a hot stove, or on a heater.