How do I decide if I should get Invisalign or a new set of retainers to correct misaligned teeth from not faithfully wearing retainers?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Sorry to hear that your teeth have shifted since your previous orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately wearing retainers is an important part of maintaining teeth alignment as teeth are held by little ligaments and its position is influenced by the forces from the lips, tongue, and these little ligaments called periodontal ligaments which may influence the teeth to shift back to its previous position. Once the teeth have shifted, these are some of your options:


  • A new set of retainers to maintain your current teeth position and prevent it from worsening. As your teeth have shifted, the retainers which were previously fabricated after your orthodontic treatment will probably not fit well or is too tight. A new set of retainers will be fabricated at your current teeth position and prevent the teeth from shifting further. This option is suitable for someone who is able to accept the already misaligned teeth but does not want the teeth to shift out of position further.
  • A new set of "active" retainers, retainers are meant to retain the post-braces outcome. However, springs and active force systems can be designed into the retainer to effect some minor correction. Do note that a large majority of the time only very minor teeth misalignment can be resolved with these "active" retainers. 
  • Clear aligner treatment (e.g Invisalign) to correct the misaligned teeth. Clear aligners look very much like clear retainers except that in order to correct the misaligned teeth, a series of aligners will be needed. Each aligner has an active force programmed into the shape of the aligner to push the teeth into better alignment. A 3D model of your misaligned teeth will be constructed and virtually re-aligned to a straighter position, the movement will be divided into a series of aligners with each successive aligner being closer to the final end goal of well-aligned teeth. You would need to wear each aligner all the time except at meals and brushing teeth, they act like braces in that they push your teeth straighter but have to be worn most of the time in order for it to be effective. Unlike retainers which are passive holding device, aligners actively correct the misaligned teeth. 

Clear aligner treatment is a growing market and there are other laboratories besides Invisalign that produce this appliance. Some clinics are also equipped with similar 3D technology needed to manage simpler cases. However, it is best to speak to your dentist/orthodontist on what they would recommend based on the severity of your relapse. 

In summary, to decide between the 3 options, I guess you have to ask yourself if you would be satisfied with no correction to only minor correction of your misaligned teeth. Some of my patients are just happy to maintain their current teeth position and want to prevent further shifting. However, if you are keen to correct the misaligned teeth without going through fixed braces again, then clear aligner treatment will be more suitable.