Four years after Invisalign, and six years after I started Invisalign, I’ve lost track of how many people I’ve discussed my experience with. A recent rehash prompted me to think that I should revisit the topic here, too, since I wrote extensively about it (indeed, there’s a whole section of the site as noted by the above link) dedicated to it.
How My Smile is Doing
Four years after Invisalign, my teeth are in good shape! I haven’t had any post-treatment problems. Even though it has been four years after Invisalign, I’m still happy with now much easier it is to just, you know, bite into food. It’s easier to care for my teeth than my pre-treatment teeth were (e.g., flossing is easier). It’s easier to do other cosmetic things like use Whitestrips (which, if you must use them, are most cost-effectively purchased at Costco).
And I’m still very happy with my smile!
Four years out, I stand by my earlier assessment of it being worth the money.
This is the big question I get a LOT. Yes, you are going to get a retainer post-treatment. Yes, you need to wear it as directed!
How often may vary depending on your case, but follow your orthodontist’s guidance. Neglecting wearing as directed runs the risk of your teeth shifting. If you start using your retainer again before things are too far gone, you’ll have discomfort. If you don’t, you will have wasted money.
My orthodontist advised that I could wear my retainer a few times a week. After going three consecutive days without wearing it to bed and having some discomfort when I wore them again (it worked out fine, it wasn’t, “too far gone,”) I try not to miss a night.
They protect my teeth from grinding at night without a clunky mouth guard! So: wear them at least as directed. It’s only overnight! It is not bad, and it would be foolish to squander the investment you made in adjusting your teeth because you can’t be bothered to wear it at night. WEAR IT.
What The Retainer is Like
In my case, my retainers are Invisalign’s Vivera product. They are a clear aligner extremely similar to the ones I was treated with. They’re a firmer, but still clear, plastic molded to my teeth.
Caring for the Retainer
I care for them the same way I cared for my aligner trays. I use an ultrasonic cleaner tub and a Retainer Brite tablet. When I run out of Retainer Brite tablets next, I’m going to try these ones from M3 Naturals if they’re still cheaper. They seem well-reviewed.
The ultrasonic cleaner is great for other things too, like cleaning jewelry, glasses, or certain electronics (do not attempt that part if you are not an informed nerd), you just need to wash it before using it for your trays again.
Storing the Retainer
I had a plastic hinged case with a push-button from when I first got Invisalign. I upgraded to one of these magnetic Pul containers; from what I understand, Invisalign treatment today gives a similar, Invisalign-branded case. Pul also makes some other accessories, like a tray remover. I tried it and didn’t like it; I tend to remove my tray/retainer in a very specific way, and it didn’t support that. Not a bad product, just not for me.
How Long Retainers Last
Unlike treatment trays, which you wear for an average of a week or two, you wear a retainer MUCH longer. Vivera retainers last much longer. Estimates vary, so I don’t want to give you a guess here – talk to your ortho for their guidance.
I am on my second one; I was a bit hard on my first and was being too abrasive cleaning it (I was brushing it in addition to ultrasonic cleaning). Over time, the abrasions kinda made it stain and look like it wasn’t getting clean. It may have just been cosmetic, but I didn’t want it retaining bacteria and being a health thing, so out of caution, I swapped into a new one.
Four Years After Invisalign, Do I See Myself Pursuing Future Treatment
In a word, no. If I wanted to incinerate money in the pursuit of hyperperfectionism, I guess I could. But I don’t want to do that. Frankly, teeth that are too perfect look manufactured and eerie anyway, in my opinion.