Dr. Stephen A. Price


Call today for your free no obligation consultation: (703)-935-2879


What Happens if I Don’t Wear My Retainer?

What Happens if I Don’t Wear My Retainer?

You’ve gone through the hard part of straightening your teeth and are loving your results. Now that you get to see your best smile, the last thing you may want to do is muck it up with a retainer. Many orthodontic patients, whether they have traditional braces or Invisalign, feel tempted to not wear their retainers. We strongly encourage all of our patients to avoid this temptation. Here, we discuss what happens if you don’t wear your retainer as directed.

What a Retainer Does

To understand the importance of wearing a retainer, you should know what it does for your smile. Retainers are removable orthodontic fixtures that hold your teeth in their new position after you have completed your straightening treatment. These fixtures come in a variety of forms and can last years with good care. Each retainer is custom-made to the exact mold of your mouth and teeth. In that form, the retainer prevents teeth from shifting.

Why Teeth May Move after Orthodontic Treatment

When you wear braces or Invisalign, your teeth may shift dramatically within the first year of treatment. For teeth to reach their appropriate position in the mouth, the gums and ligaments that secure them become “flexible.” So, without the compression of an aligner or arch-wire, the teeth lose some of the stability that is needed. For some time after orthodontic treatment, the periodontal ligament, teeth roots, and gums are more likely to conform to their natural tendencies. Retainers are worn to combat that.

Do I Have to Wear a Retainer Forever?

Understandably, you want your smile to look naturally straight and beautiful. Wearing a retainer can feel constrictive. It can feel like a let-down to have to wear this fixture after being freed from braces or aligners. However, your dentist will probably instruct you to wear your retainers at all times for 6 to 12 months. The good news is that, over time, the tissues that could shift teeth into their old position get used to the new pattern. They stop pulling teeth out of alignment. After 6 to 12 months, as instructed by your dentist, you may reduce your wear to nighttime only. Some people continue to wear their retainers nightly for many years. Some reduce their wear to two to three times a week after two or more years of nightly wear.

Ultimately, the entire point of completing an orthodontic treatment program is to have straighter, more attractive teeth. Wearing a retainer after treatment is part and parcel of the outcome of care. To learn more about Invisalign, contact our Burke, VA office at (703)-935-2879.

Why Wearing a Retainer is So Important

Invisalign Burke, VAAfter braces come off, even if you’ve been treated with Invisalign, you may wish for a break. More time with yet another fixture supporting teeth can feel restrictive. However, the moment braces come off, your dentist will fit you with a retainer. Here, we discuss why, and what happens if you don’t wear your retainer as directed.

Why a Retainer is Needed

A retainer is a device that runs along the arch of teeth to keep them in place after orthodontic treatment. Historically, retainers have been removable. More recently, though, fixed retainers have become available. They are also much more discreet than they once were. Many of the retainers that are made today are clear, just like Invisalign, or are situated behind the teeth where the single wire cannot be seen.

After your last Invisalign tray or once braces come off, a new model of your teeth is made using impressions. From this model, your retainer can be made to fit perfectly to prevent teeth from shifting back toward their original position.

Why Teeth Shift

For the first year after orthodontic treatment is completed, teeth are likely to shift back into misalignment. The reason this can happen is that, at this time, the ligaments that hold teeth in place are more flexible as a result of the pressure placed on teeth during Invisalign or braces treatment. If teeth are “set free” with no safeguards, the flexibility of the periodontal ligament will allow them to shift.

How to Wear a Retainer

One of the questions patients have is if they will have to wear a retainer forever. The answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

Initially, retainers are prescribed for full-time wear. After the first year of use, it is possible to reduce wear to nighttime only. This can continue for another year. By this time, teeth should be much more stable in their new position. Then, a retainer can be worn a few nights a week to prevent the slight shifts that can naturally occur with age.

If you have questions about straightening your teeth with Invisalign and what that would entail for you, call our Burke office at (703)-935-2879. We love helping patients love their smiles!

Want Straighter Teeth? These are your Options.

bracesImperfections are a given. There are relatively few people whose permanent teeth grow in perfectly, symmetrical and in a proper position. For some, the tiny variances in the straightness of their teeth come across as the character. For others, misalignment or bite issues are more problematic, and correction may be needed.

When teeth are not aligned properly, each tooth may endure excessive bite force. Crowding and twisting make it difficult to clean all plaque from hard-to-reach places, and this invisible biofilm can harden into tartar. This creates a higher risk for cavities and gum disease, not to mention bad breath. In our Burke office, patients from Northern Virginia can consult with an experienced Invisalign dentist about a discreet, comfortable way to straighten their teeth.

Why would you want to consider Invisalign? To understand the answer, let’s explore the options that you may have to choose from:

Traditional Orthodontic Treatment

What is traditional orthodontia? Braces.  It’s metal brackets that are cemented to the front surface of each tooth. A wire is run through each bracket. About every 4 weeks, this wire is adjusted to place pressure in the area where movement is desired at that time.

Clear Braces

The development of clear brackets and wires has made orthodontic treatment more appealing – at least regarding aesthetics.


Invisalign has been a huge leap forward in the correction of mild to moderate misalignment. The system may still seem new, but its use began in 1998. Early on, Invisalign was perceived as a cosmetic orthodontic method; meaning, it was intended for the correction of mild alignment issues at the front of the mouth. This idea was all wrong.

The Invisalign system has been designed to correct spacing issues as well as occlusal issues such as an overbite or cross-bite. The difference between this method and traditional braces is that Invisalign moves teeth with force exerted via a clear, plastic aligner. The appliance looks like a mouth guard, or like the trays you where to whiten your teeth.

In addition to being ultra discreet, Invisalign aligners are appealing because they can be removed, unlike the metal, fixtures were worn during orthodontic treatment. This means that food choices do not have to be altered and that oral hygiene can be performed without obstacles getting in the way.

We are happy to discuss your option for Invisalign when you visit our Burke office. Call (703)750-9404.

Invisalign a Significant Advancement in the Evolution of Orthodontics

Did you know that the desire for a beautiful smile is nothing new? Evidence proves that ancient civilizations attempted to develop ways to straighten and whiten teeth. Dental issues have been a matter of contemplation since 400BC, even provoking thought from researchers and philosophers such as Hippocrates and Aristotle. The remains found in certain cultures, such as the Etruscans, indicate that orthodontic appliances had been fitted to those who had passed, presumably to preserve teeth for the afterlife.

The orthodontic treatment that we know today is thought to have originated between the 17th and the 19th century. During these centuries, French dental pioneers practiced tooth extraction and palate expansion to make room for teeth to develop. The standard model of braces emerged in the 19th century, when wires and elastics were placed to exert mild force onto the ligament which holds teeth out of alignment. From early models came the metal bracket and wire fixtures orthodontists use today. With periodic adjustments, these fixtures gradually move teeth into optimal position.

New Developments in Orthodontic Care

invisalignIn some cases, conventional orthodontia remains the best option for alignment correction. However, many patients of Dr. Price are able to achieve their desired outcome without ever having to wear metal fixtures on their teeth. An Invisalign Premier Provider, Dr. Price has helped numerous patients in Northern Virginia feel better about their smile.

Invisalign has taken the basic principles of orthodontic care and transformed the delivery method. Rather than using metal brackets and wires, the Invisalign system moves teeth with pressure from clear, plastic aligners. These appliances look similar to the trays used to whiten teeth, but they are formed in a unique manner that exerts the force needed to move teeth into their rightful position.

There are several benefits to Invisalign treatment, all of which are significant. Patients appreciate the fact that they can discreetly straighten their teeth. Without metal appliances, greater comfort is enjoyed throughout the course of treatment. Rather than having to visit the orthodontists periodically for orthodontic adjustments, patients need only switch their aligners every two weeks to continue the progression of movement. Because aligners are removable, oral hygiene can be maintained, decreasing the risk of cavities and gum irritation.

Want to see how Invisalign can give you a straighter smile? Schedule a no obligation consultation at (703)750-9404.



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