Retainer Use After Invisalign or Braces

Happy man holding a clear aligner
Happy man holding a clear aligner

Once you complete treatment with Invisalign or braces, you might not be able to stop looking at yourself in the mirror. And we can’t blame you.

While your treatment is over, you’re still not at the finish line yet.

You have to maintain those results, or your teeth will shift back into place.

At this point, you may be wondering how long you’ll have to wear retainers. You might be curious about what retainers cost as well.

Well, at Nelson Orthodontics, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about retainers, at least for now.

Purpose of Retainers

Your Invisalign treatment probably took you anywhere from six months to eighteen months or possibly longer. On the other hand, your braces treatment probably took between one and three years to complete.

This seems like it would be adequate for shifting the position of your teeth, but they may gradually return to their normal ones because they haven’t fully stabilized in the jawbone.

Retainers help to maintain the corrected alignment of the teeth and prevent them from shifting back to their original positions.

The bone and soft tissue surrounding the teeth also need time to adjust to their new positions.

Retainers aid in this process by providing support and allowing these structures to adapt to the changes gradually, minimizing the risk of relapse.

Additionally, the muscles in and around your mouth need time to adapt to the new positions of your teeth. Retainers help the muscles adjust and maintain proper balance and function, promoting a stable bite and preventing any potential discomfort or functional issues.


Length of Treatment

The duration of retainer wear can vary depending on individual factors and your orthodontist’s recommendations. In general, we recommend wearing the retainers for an extended period after the completion of Invisalign or braces treatment to ensure the long-term stability of your teeth.

How long you need to wear your retainers will change over time in three phases, that is, in most cases.

Phase One – Continuous Wear

Initially, after braces or Invisalign, you may need to wear your retainers full-time, most of the day and night. This period typically lasts a few months to a year. Full-time wear allows the teeth, bones, and soft tissues to adapt and stabilize in their new positions.

Phase Two – At-Night Only

After the initial full-time wear, your orthodontist will likely advise transitioning to wearing retainers primarily at night while you sleep.

Nighttime wear helps maintain the achieved alignment and prevent potential relapse while still allowing for proper muscle function and oral hygiene during the day.

Phase Three – A Few Nights Per Week

In some cases, orthodontists may recommend long-term or lifelong retainer wear, at least a few nights a week, to ensure the continued stability of your smile.

This is because teeth have a natural tendency to shift over time, and wearing retainers on a part-time basis can help prevent any significant changes.


It’s crucial to follow your orthodontist’s specific recommendations regarding retainer wear.

Regular check-ups with our Seattle, WA, orthodontist will allow them to monitor the stability of your teeth and provide guidance on the duration and frequency of retainer use tailored to your individual needs.

Remember, consistent and diligent retainer wear is vital for maintaining the results of your orthodontic treatment and enjoying a stable, well-aligned smile in the long run.

Retainers Cost

The answer to what retainers cost can vary depending on factors such as the type of retainer, your location, and the specific dental provider you choose.

It’s best to consult with your orthodontist or dental provider to get an accurate estimate based on your needs and circumstances.

There are generally two main types of retainers: removable and fixed retainers.

Removable retainers typically consist of clear plastic or acrylic and are similar in appearance to Invisalign aligners. The cost of removable retainers can range from $200 to $600 per arch (upper or lower) or $400 to $1,200 for both arches. Keep in mind that these are approximate price ranges and can vary.

Fixed Retainers, also known as bonded or permanent retainers, consist of a thin wire that our dentist bonds to the back of your teeth. The cost of fixed retainers can range from $250 to $500 per arch or $500 to $1,000 for both arches.

It’s important to remember that these are general cost ranges and can vary based on factors such as the complexity of your case, any additional dental procedures required, and the specific fees charged by the dental provider.


At Nelson Orthodontics, we offer Invisalign and braces. But once you complete your treatment, you must wear retainers to maintain your results. Fortunately, the cost of retainers varies based on the time and might be cheaper than you thought.


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