Orthodontic Relapse: Will My Teeth Move Back After Invisalign?

Written by:

Dr. Justin Soon

Published on:

Orthodontic Relapse: Will My Teeth Move Back After Invisalign?

Have you ever wondered what happens to your teeth after Invisalign treatment? Will your teeth remain in place, or can they go back to their original positions?

In this blog post, we’ll answer these questions and give you more information about post-Invisalign maintenance. Invisalign treatment does not end with your last aligner. Post-treatment care is also important.

Every Invisalign patient deserves the satisfaction of knowing their money and commitment won’t go to waste. So read on as we cover topics from how Invisalign can realign your teeth to steps for preventing orthodontic relapse and maintaining your straight teeth. With these tips, we hope we can help you attain the long-term advantages of Invisalign treatment.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Invisalign is a modern orthodontic treatment growing in popularity with patients and dentists worldwide. Through gradual adjustments, Invisalign can align your teeth, improve your bite and restore balance without the use of braces.

Following an individualised treatment plan, Invisalign uses custom-made removable aligners that fit your teeth snugly. These aligners apply gradual and continuous pressure on teeth to shift them into their proper position. Using each successive aligner during treatment will help the teeth move until the desired result is achieved.

Does the Result of Invisalign Last Forever?

Invisalign results can be maintained for years, but how long they last depend on various factors. So while you want to keep your teeth aligned for as long as possible, orthodontic relapse can happen. Orthodontic relapse refers to the movement of teeth that were previously straightened back toward their original position.

There are five common reasons why teeth shift after Invisalign treatment. This includes the following:

  • Not wearing the retainers as instructed.
    After orthodontic treatment, it is important to wear retainers as instructed by your dentist. Your retainer will keep your teeth in place, and failing to wear them will lead to orthodontic relapse.

  • Not visiting your dentist regularly for checkups.
    Most patients stop going to their dentist regularly after Invisalign treatment. Visiting your dentist allows them to watch out for minor tooth movements that could lead to misalignments. For this reason, it is important to visit your dentist regularly.

  • Not using a mouthguard while playing contact sports.
    Wearing a mouthguard while engaging in sports activities such as football and wrestling can reduce the possibility of teeth being displaced from a strong impact.

  • Teeth erupting and jaw growing naturally over time.
    Sometimes despite preventive measures, your teeth may move due to jaw growth or eruption of third molars.

  • Developing gum disease.
    Gum disease causes the jawbone to resorb and shrink. When this happens, teeth lose their anchorage, which may lead to their movement.

Knowing the cause of orthodontic relapse will help your dentist address the problem and prevent it from worsening. Be sure to inform your dentist of any changes you see in your smile!

How Can I Prevent My Teeth From Relapsing After Invisalign Treatment?

After a successful Invisalign treatment, it is important to work with your dentist so that your teeth remain in their new position. The most common way to prevent orthodontic relapse after Invisalign treatment is by wearing a retainer.

Retainers are orthodontic appliances designed to keep your teeth from moving back to their original positions after Invisalign therapy. There are different kinds of retainers, and each should be discussed with your dentist before making a decision.

Fixed Retainers

A fixed dental retainer is an orthodontic appliance cemented onto the back of the teeth to hold them in place after removing braces or aligners. They are usually made of stainless steel wire. Since fixed retainers are cemented in place, they cannot be removed by the patient, and regular dental checkups are needed to check for proper fit and hygiene.

Removable Retainers

Removable dental retainers are orthodontic appliances designed to be taken in and out of the mouth by the patient. They are usually made of clear plastic or acrylic and are custom-fitted to the individual’s mouth. They can be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing, but it is recommended to wear them as much as possible, especially at night.

There are three different types of removable retainers:

  • Hawley:
    Hawley retainers are composed of metal wires and acrylic. The wires are shaped to keep your teeth in place, while the acrylic is formed to fit comfortably against your gums and palate.

  • Essix:
    Essix retainers are made of a clear plastic material. They are less conspicuous than Hawley retainers. Unlike Hawley retainers, Essix retainers keep teeth in place by covering the entire surface of the teeth.

  • Vivera:
    Vivera retainers are manufactured exclusively for Invisalign patients. They are made from a durable, translucent material designed to last longer than other removable retainers. These appliances are customised for maximum comfort and efficacy.

To maintain the results of Invisalign treatment, here are five additional tips you can incorporate into your daily routine.

  • Practice good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day, floss daily, and use mouthwash to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

  • Eat a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals. These will help maintain stronger teeth and bones.

  • Avoid chewing on pens, pencils, hard candy, and ice.

  • Use a mouthguard when engaging in contact sports or activities that may cause trauma to your teeth and jaw.

  • Get regular checkups, so any minor changes in your teeth’ alignment are quickly managed.

Taking these extra steps after completing Invisalign treatment can help keep your teeth straight for many years.

How Are Retainers Worn?

Wearing retainers is an important part of the maintenance process. They help keep your teeth straight following Invisalign treatment.

When wearing your retainers, they should be placed over your teeth and gently pressed until they fit comfortably and snuggly. Taking your retainers in and out may feel challenging at first, but with practice, you’ll be able to do so without difficulty.

Here are some dos and don’ts that you should remember when wearing retainers:

  • Do wear your retainer as directed by your dentist.
    Some dentists recommend that retainers be worn 24/7 for six months to two years. Follow your dentist’s instructions to keep your teeth in place.

  • Do keep your retainers clean.
    Clean your retainer before and after wearing them. Use a soft-bristled brush and non-abrasive toothpaste when cleaning them.

  • Do keep your retainers inside the case.
    When not in use, store your retainers in their container to prevent deformation and loss.

  • Don’t suck on your retainer.
    This can distort its shape and cause your teeth to move.

  • Don’t let anyone else try your retainers on.
    The retainers are custom-made for your mouth. Letting someone else wear your retainer is unhygienic and could damage the appliance.

  • Don’t attempt to fix or adjust your retainer yourself.
    This can cause unwanted shifting or pain. Visit your dentist for any necessary repairs or adjustments.

Initially, you’ll need to wear your retainers for 22 hours daily for the first six months. Eventually, you can transition to wearing them only at night. For long-lasting results, most dentists recommend that you wear them indefinitely.

Are Retainers and Aligners the Same?

It’s easy to think retainers and aligners are the same, but in fact, there are significant differences between the two, such as:

  • Retainers are used to maintain teeth in their new positions after orthodontic treatment. Meanwhile, aligners move teeth into an ideal position.

  • Retainers are made of wires or clear plastic and fit over the top and bottom arches. Aligners look somewhat like retainers but tend to be thinner and more pliable.

  • Aligners need to be changed regularly as the patient progresses through their treatment. In comparison, retainers do not require periodic changes since they are designed for longer-term use after the patient has achieved their desired results.

Retainers and aligners are oral appliances that play critical roles in your treatment. Wearing them as instructed is important to achieve and maintain straight teeth.

How Is Relapsing Addressed?

Having your straight teeth undone after having Invisalign treatment can be disheartening, considering the time, effort, and cost associated with this process. But don’t worry! We can take action to solve this problem.

Before addressing an orthodontic relapse, your dentist will identify the cause of the relapse first. This could be due to ill-fitting aligners or more complicated issues involving facial structure or jaw discrepancies. Once the cause is identified, it can then be addressed.

Observation is key. Catching subtle changes in your tooth alignment early can help prevent bigger problems. If a relapse is observed, getting new retainers may be necessary. In severe cases, re-treatment may be recommended.

Addressing orthodontic relapse won’t have to be an arduous process. With a treatment plan tailored to your needs, it is possible to achieve straight teeth again.

Final Thoughts

Most patients think that their Invisalign treatment ends as they finish wearing their last aligner. However, this is not the case. Unfortunately, teeth need assistance and care to stay in their new alignment and prevent orthodontic relapse. While it is highly possible for teeth to move back to their original position after Invisalign treatment, you can take steps to avoid this from happening.

If you want to know how to achieve long-lasting Invisalign results, speak to our experienced dentists at Karrinyup Dental Centre.

Our dental team is dedicated to helping you maintain your beautiful, healthy smile long after treatment has finished. We understand that keeping your teeth aligned takes time and effort, so we would gladly help you by answering any questions you have. Don’t wait any longer – book an appointment through our website or call our dental office today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Teeth can relapse in as little as one to two weeks after Invisalign treatment. This varies from person to person, but we expect teeth to move back faster if retainers are not worn as instructed. Thankfully, relapse doesn’t always mean the teeth will go back to how they were before; instead, the teeth may only shift slightly. This means that with immediate attention and treatment, there is still hope for keeping your teeth straight without undergoing the complete treatment process again. With consistent retainer use and following your dentist’s instructions, you can have a straight smile again.

Invisalign has revolutionised the way we straighten teeth. In addition to being comfortable and virtually invisible when worn, Invisalign is ideal for people wanting to align their teeth without a mouthful of metal.

However, as with all treatments, Invisalign should be used properly and under the guidance of a dental professional to prevent it from causing any damage to teeth in the long run.

To get the full benefit of Invisalign treatment and minimise any potential risks, the following are recommended:

  • Conscientious oral hygiene habits
  • Regular cleanings by a dental professional
  • Follow-up visits to the dentists

Eating right during your Invisalign treatment helps you get the most out of your orthodontic experience. There are some dos and don’ts when eating during Invisalign treatment, and following some simple tips can help you stay on track.

  • Do brush and floss after every meal
  • Do drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Do eat foods that are soft or cut them into small pieces
  • Do chew slowly
  • Do avoid sticky foods like taffy or gummy bears
  • Don’t eat hard, crunchy foods (such as popcorn kernels or nuts) and sticky foods
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Don’t eat or drink anything that could stain your aligners (like coffee and red wine)

Eating right during Invisalign treatment doesn’t have to be a chore. Remember these dos and don’ts for an easy and effective orthodontic journey!

No, they are not the same. Invisalign trays are designed to move your teeth over time, while mouthguards protect teeth from trauma or grinding during sleep. The type of mouthguard you use is dependent on your needs. For example, athletes may benefit from a sturdy protector that combats the risk of bent or chipped teeth caused by contact sports, while someone with bruxism would need a softer mouthguard to wear at night. Patients need to understand the difference between these two products so that they can select the one that will benefit them the most.

Dr. Justin Soon


Dr. Justin Soon

Dr. Justin completed his Bachelor of Dental Surgery at the University of Western Australia. Dr Justin completed his surgical implant training under the mentorship of Dr. Glen Liddelow, Dr. Graham Carmichael, and Dr. Brent Allan at the Branemark Centre.

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