After finishing clear aligner treatment, you’ll want to enjoy your straighter smile. Unless you take care, there’s a chance that you'll stop being happy with your teeth.
There are important things that you’ll need to do, if you want to keep your smile looking great. Why not keep reading to learn more from our guide to essential care after clear aligners?
Can teeth move back once treatment has finished?
Once you’ve used your last set of clear aligners, your treatment isn’t over. Now, you need to keep your teeth in position.
Teeth can move back if they’re left alone. Imagine you’re standing with your arm by your side, then lift it so that it’s at a horizontal angle. Your arm wants to fall back down, and you need to make a bit of effort to keep it in this new position. Your teeth are the same. Clear aligners work by forcing your teeth to move to somewhere new. You should use retainers to keep them in place, once you’ve got the smile you’ve always wanted.
Retainers don’t make your teeth move further. They’re just used to hold your teeth so that they don’t move back. Unlike clear aligners, your retainers only need to be worn when you’re sleeping. For the first few weeks, when your teeth aren’t as secure in their new positions, you’ll wear your retainers day and night.
Some providers of clear aligners will provide your first set of retainers. This will be free, or included within your treatment package. Otherwise, you’ll need to buy retainers and most aligner companies will sell them.
Retainers usually cost around $99. You should replace your aligners every six months, to make sure that they keep working their best. Over time, aligners wear down and the shape might change. Old aligners are also less hygienic. Your annual ongoing costs after treatment will be around $200.
Some people decide not to use their retainers once they’ve completed their treatment. Many come to regret this decision when their teeth start to move back.
How should you brush your teeth?
Most people find that using clear aligners will change their tooth brushing habits. You’ve probably been brushing after every meal, as well as in the morning and before bed, and after any drink that isn’t water. Now, you can relax and go back to brushing twice a day.
Once you’ve finished using clear aligners, go back to your old dental habits. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes, and insert your retainers after you’ve brushed in the evening.
Can you use teeth whitening products?
After you’ve gone through treatment to get a straighter smile, you deserve to proudly show it. If your teeth aren’t as white as you’d like them to be, you can use teeth whitening products.
Teeth whitening products can be used during and after teeth straightening. For many people, they’re a great addition to aligners that straighten your teeth. Just make sure you use teeth whitening kits from reputable providers.
Some clear aligner companies provide teeth whitening kits of their own. Use these during or after treatment, to get a brighter new smile.
If you’re using teeth whitening products, always use a trusted brand. Follow instructions carefully to get your teeth a few shades whiter.
What about regular dental checkups?
Follow your usual dental checkup routine. You should still visit the dentist during your treatment, and continue these visits once it’s over. Keeping your appointments is very important, as your dentist can spot developing problems and treat any issues that exist.
Your dental checkups should never be low priority. Dentists can look for cavities and gum disease, helping to reduce the risk of both.
As you age, dental care becomes more important than ever. Your adult teeth might have been in your mouth since you were in kindergarten, and as you age your gums will recede and your teeth will have been through a lot. If you want to maintain your new smile, despite all this wear and tear, you’ll want to make sure that you visit your dentist for checkups at least every 12 months. Ideally, go every 6 months to make sure there are no problems developing.
What kind of toothbrush should you use?
As long as you brush your teeth carefully and thoroughly, there’s no specific toothbrush that you’ll need to use after your clear aligner treatment.
Generally, electric brushes are better than a manual toothbrush. Ones with rounded, oscillating heads are usually the most effective. You can also get a sonic toothbrush, though these might not clean your teeth so well.
If you’re looking for a new toothbrush to help you take care of your smile, it can help to browse toothbrush reviews and see what other people think. You don’t need to spend money on high-tech features, but you’ll want a toothbrush that makes your teeth look and feel their best.
What if your teeth move back?
Even with the best care and attention, mistakes can sometimes happen. If your teeth have started to move, you’ll want to get things back on track.
Some providers of clear aligners offer a lifetime guarantee. They might provide a follow-up treatment to move your teeth back into position. If you haven’t used a company that offers this, you may need to start another treatment plan. There’s no need to stick to the same provider. If you’re starting a new plan, take time to check if another provider suits you better.
Even if your teeth move slightly, you may be able to shift them back if you’ve kept your old aligner trays. Otherwise, see if your retainers still fit and can help to move your teeth back into place. Fast action is essential, if you want to avoid further treatment. Just remember that your clear aligners were designed to fit your teeth at one specific moment, and that your teeth may be moving back in a slightly different way. So, your old aligners may not still fit if you want to try and use them again.
Trying to move your teeth again, if they’ve already moved back, is likely to cause some discomfort or low-level pain. If using your aligners is too painful, or if you can’t fit them to your teeth, you’ll need to get new clear aligners. You’ll probably have to pay for your treatment again.
Reduce the risk of your teeth moving back by using your retainers every night. If your teeth have moved and you can’t fix things on your own, why not contact your aligner provider and see if they can offer a great deal?