Are Retainers Required After Invisalign or Braces?

The day you get your Invisalign or metal braces off is one you’ll never forget. You’ll love your results and hope they last forever. In order to ensure that your straight teeth and new, attractive smile lasts, you will likely need to wear a retainer. Some retainers are made of metal and acrylic while others are made of clear plastic and resemble Invisalign aligners.

Since genetics often cause misaligned bites or crooked teeth, if you don’t wear a retainer after your Invisalign or braces, your teeth can return to the state they were in before you received orthodontic treatment. If you’d like to keep your results and prevent your teeth from shifting in the years after you’ve had your Invisalign or braces removed, you should make it a priority to wear your retainer.

How Do I get fitted for a Retainer?
In the past, impressions would be made to create retainers. Now, with the help of technology, computer model scans are taken in order to create retainers and Invisalign aligners. Simply, a visit will be made after your braces are off to scan for the appropriate retainers.

Can I pick the retainer I want?
More often than not, you are able to pick the type of retainer you want. There are 3 types of common retainers: removable retainers, permanent retainers and Invisalign aligners. Talk to your orthodontist about the type of retainer you may be interested and he or she will recommend which type of retainer may be best for you.

How Often do I wear my Retainer?
The severity of your alignment issues pre-braces or prior to Invisalign will determine how often you’ll need to wear your retainer. At first, you may be instructed to wear your retainer all the time. However, after several months, you may be able to only wear it at night. Be sure to wear your retainer as directed to ensure that your teeth do not shift.

Do I need to clean my retainer?
Yes, please clean your retainer routinely! If you are prescribed a retainer, be sure to follow cleaning, wearing, and storing instructions as directed from the orthodontist. You can use baking soda, denture cleaner, or a special retainer cleaning solution to make sure that plaque or “white” is not visible on the retainer.

Does BCBSNC cover Invisalign or Braces?
We are often asked if BCBSNC Dental insurance covers Invisalign or braces. We ask that you please visit this link or contact Gladwell Orthodontics directly at 919-453-6325 for more information regarding insurance and orthodontic treatment.


Healthy Habits To Maintain With Your Retainer:

  • Wear them as your prescribed: Above all, please listen to your orthodontist. If you are directed to wear your retainer all day long, please do so. If you are told to only wear your retainer at night, then please do just this.
  • Take it out while eating: Every time you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack, be sure to take out your retainer. Careful not to forget to put it back in your mouth as soon as you’ve finished your meal and cleaned your mouth. If you can, try to brush or thoroughly rinse with mouthwash prior to putting your retainer back in as this helps to dislodge any small food particles on the teeth so that it doesn’t stick to the retainer.
  • Clean it thoroughly: To keep your retainer in optimal shape, get into the habit of cleaning it thoroughly at least once a week. We recommend you use baking soda, denture cleaner, or a special retainer cleaning solution. If you choose to soak your retainer in a cleaning solution mixed with water, try to avoid using hot water. Too hot of water can warp some of the plastics that certain retainers are made of ruining your aligner. This is true with Invisalign aligners since the plastic material is so unique.
  • Bring it with you every time you have a checkup: If you bring your retainer with you every time you go to the orthodontist, they can ensure it still fits properly and is doing its job.

Habits to try an avoid with Your Retainer:

  • Placing your retainer in a tissue or napkin: It can be tempting to place your retainer in a tissue or napkin, especially if you forgot your case during school lunch or you are out and about but doing so is not a good idea! Unfortunately, this can dry out the retainer and of course make it much easier for it to get thrown away by mistake.
  • Taking the night off from wearing your retainer: If you are told to wear your retainer every night, don’t skip a night! That means don’t even try to skip one because once you skip once you’ll feel more inclined to skip another, which could cause negative effects. Frankly, Even a few nights without it can cause your teeth to shift back into their normal positions.
  • Forget it while traveling: If you travel often for work or pleasure, always remember to take your retainer with you.
  • Leave it in an area near small pets and children: Children and pets can destroy your retainer so it’s essential to keep it away from them at all times.

Additional Retainer FAQ’s:

If I’m an adult and done growing, I don’t need a retainer, right?
False! Just because your bones tend to stop growing as adults, this doesn’t mean your teeth automatically stop moving! In fact, regardless of age, anyone who has had braces should wear a retainer for a certain period of time afterwards. However, the length of retainer wear can differ according to the orthodontists’ discretion. Talk with the orthodontist to see how long you may need to wear a retainer as an adult following braces removal.

Can I get SmileDirect retainers instead of Invisalign?
While SmileDirect is available on the market, those of us at Gladwell Orthodontics do not recommend this as a treatment option. Rather, we suggest that you schedule a visit at our office to receive a thorough examination of your teeth and proper fitting of retainers or aligners. At our office we offer Invisalign aligners, which are professionally known and efficient. If interested in clear aligners like the SmileDirect, our excellent Invisalign provider Dr. Gladwell would be more than happy to discuss Invisalign options with you!

Do I have to clean my teeth more with retainers?
With or without retainers, you should be certain that you are maintaining proper at-home care concerning your teeth! However, because retainers may sometimes make plaque stick to the teeth during overnight wear you should be certain that you are brushing and flossing twice a day routinely. This especially holds true if you have a permanent retainer!

If you have a permanent retainer, which remains cemented on the backside of the teeth, you should be brushing with a soft bristled toothbrush making sure that no food particles or plaque can get stuck.Additionally, you should be flossing between each wire as permanent retainers are known for excessive plaque or tartar (hardened plaque) to form. If you have one, a Waterpik or water flosser can help to flush out any food particles from your permanent retainer. If you don’t have a Waterpik or water flosser, we’d be glad to help find you one that you can enjoy at your next appointment with us!


To learn more about retainers after Invisalign or braces, you should contact Gladwell Orthodontics today at 919-453-6325. Dr. Jason Gladwell will take a look at your mouth, teeth, and gums and determine if a retainer is right for you in your future.