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How Long To Wear Retainers After Invisalign

The amount of time you're supposed to wear your retainers depends on how long it has been since you finished Invisalign treatment.


Below is a summary chart:

Time since finishing Invisalign

How long to wear retainers

< 6 months

20-22 hours/day

6 months to 2 years

6-8 hours/day

2+ years

Every night is preferred


First 6 months after Invisalign

Immediately after finishing Invisalign treatment and up to the first 6 months, our dentists recommending wearing the retainers for 20-22 hours per day. In other words, you should wear them all the time just like how you've been wearing each aligner.


invisalign vivera retainers in case
vivera retainers

Why wear 20-22 hours/day: Right after you finish moving the teeth, they will be loose but wearing the retainers more frequently will help them tighten back up faster. If you wear them less, they will take longer to tighten back up.

  • If you don't believe me, try wiggling your bottom front teeth.

  • You'll notice them wobble back and forth.

  • Don't be concerned because that is normal.


Why the teeth are loose: In order to understand why the teeth are mobile after finishing ortho treatment you need to understand how teeth move through bone.


orthodontic force diagram with bone formation and resorption

As shown in the diagram above, for the tooth to move to the right:

  • The bone to the right of it gets resorbed to create space for it to move there.

  • The bone to the left of it now needs to add more bone since there is a big gap.


Essentially the teeth will go through multiple cycles of the above until you finish Invisalign. The teeth are loose because you're basically waiting for your body to fill back in the bone!


 

After 6 months and up to 2 years

If it has been 6-24 months after you've finished Invisalign, you should be wearing the retainers for at least 6-8 hours per day. The most practical way to fulfill this requirement is by wearing it at nighttime while you sleep. We typically refer to this as nighttime wear.


Reasoning for 6-8 hours of wear: The teeth should no longer be mobile but the everyday nighttime wear for up to 2 years will help them stabilize. This is the stabilization phase.

  • This phase is where you want to teach the teeth to stay where they are.

  • It is a crucial period because teeth can drift and relapse very easily. You don't want to have to redo the entire treatment again!


It is not the end of the world of you miss a day here and there during this time period.


However you may notice that if you missed a day or two, the night you finally put your retainers back on, they will feel TIGHT. If that sounds like you, it means that they teeth are trying to move back to where they were before! You must be diligent for the next week or two to re-acclimatize the dentition.


 

More than 2 years after Invisalign

If it has been more than 2 years after you finished Invisalign and you've been diligently wearing your retainers, the teeth should be stabilized by now.


Our recommendation for how long to wear it: Our dentists in Long Island City recommend that you wear them on a nightly basis still because it is easy to remember and creates a good habit. That is part of our invisalign treatment process.


invisalign retainer next to case
invisalign retainer next to case

However, if you're ambitious you could try wearing it 6 days a week to see if the teeth stay in place.

  • If you don't feel pressure wearing the retainers after doing 6 days/week you can do that.

  • After a while you can move onto 5 days per week and then 4 days a week but it all depends on your situation.


Note: If the retainers feel tight after your experimental schedule, you must move back to wearing it more frequently. That means your mouth isn't ready for such an infrequent retainer schedule!


With that being said it is of our opinion that the easiest and best thing to do is simply to wear them every night. Although legends have it that you could potentially move onto 1 day/week wear at some point...


That's all that we have to say about this topic. Don't forget that each set of the vivera retainers will last about 18-24 months each. If yours are worn out, broken, or you lost them you can contact our dental office to have new ones made... That is if you're nearby in Long Island City, NY!

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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