You can't fight Gravity
Retainers are devices that hold the teeth in place after active orthodontic treatment with braces or Invisalign. They are traditionally formed with wires, but are now also available as a clear aligner.
Do I need retainers?
Yes, everyone should wear retainers after treatment in order to maintain the position of their teeth. Recent research involving 3D facial scans, has shown that aging causes the bones of the face to move forward and downward due to gravity. This movement of the jaw bone will cause your teeth to shift since they are embedded in your jaw. As a result, to keep your teeth straight, it is necessary to have a set of retainers that you wear periodically through out your life.
There are periodontal fibers that hold your teeth within your bone which require 6 months to fully stabilize around the new position of your teeth. Hence, you need to wear your retainers for 6 months full time after Invisalign, Braces or Jaw Surgery treatment.
How long do I need to wear my retainers for?
You need to wear your retainers for at least 6 months full time, which means that you are wearing the retainers both day and night. This is because you need the bone to fully solidify around the new position of your teeth after active orthodontic treatment is complete and you need the interdental fibers that connect your teeth to the bone to stabilize. After the first 6 months, you can start wearing the retainers at night.
There are two types of removable retainers.
Clear Essix retainers are removable and almost invisible when you are wearing them. They are very similar to Invisalign clear aligners. They are thin and fitted to your teeth, so that they are comfortable to wear and will keep your teeth in the position.
Hawley retainers have a metal wire in the front of your teeth that makes it adjustable so in case your teeth shifts a little, a slight adjustment with the wire could bring your teeth back into position. The Hawley retainers are more durable and will last longer than Essix retainers but adult patients find it difficult to wear the Hawley retainers full time during the first 6 months because of the visibility of the wire.
A bonded lingual retainer is a metal wire attached to the back of your teeth. The advantage of the bonded retainers is that you do not have to worry about taking your retainers in and out or forget about wearing them. However, you may find it very difficult to floss with a bonded retainer and so tartar and plaque can build up easily which can lead to cavities and gum disease.