Things have been real slow with my teeth aka Invisalign treatment lately.. Since I've been put on retainers (indefinitely), I am currently still awaiting news from the orthodontist and Invisalign Malaysia on the next step.. It's a really long story, but let's not go there for now. Ever since I started my treatment, I've had friends who are curious how my aligners look like. There are also friends who have worn braces who are curious what are the difference between aligners and retainers. Lemme try and break it down to you in this post!
At a glance, the aligner and retainer look alike, don't they? The only difference it seems, are the cases - my aligner case comes in blue or red while my retainer case was a clear plastic container that has my records written on it. According to most online articles, clear Aligners are made of a strong plastic material that produces a gradual force to control teeth movement. Retainers on the other hand, can either be made of solid plastic OR metal wire and are designed to hold the position of your teeth to keep it from shifting. Both are custom-made to fit your teeth, but you will realise that there can be many pairs of aligners as it is used in place of traditional braces, hence the shape changes for every pair. There will be only one pair of retainers which you will receive at the end of your orthodontic treatment in order to ensure that your treatment results lasts for a long time!
Physically, they both really look the same. If it weren't for the jutting out plastic part on the retainer, I honestly wouldn't be able to tell both apart. Also, you can see that the shape of the retainer is not as straight as my aligner (which is #40, the last upper tray) because it's not my final pair of retainers yet.
What about the wear time? For aligners, the patient is required to wear it for at least 20 hours a day in order to obtain the desired results. Each aligner should be used for about 1 - 3 weeks, depending on your orthodontist's advice or how fast your teeth moves. For retainers, the orthodontist will advice you to have either full-time or part-time wear and one pair can last you for about a year. It is normal to feel pain initially when wearing either appliance as your teeth tends to move position in a shorter time than you think (according to my personal experience).
Upon closer inspection, I found that my aligner's plastic is a little bit murkier than the retainer. It also feels 'tougher', it IS a form of braces after all. The is also little printed numbered & lettered indications at the molar part to show you which pair it is and whether it is the top or bottom tray. You can see little bumps at the back of my front teeth section too, which is where the attachments are supposed to be. It's not shown in this picture, but there are cuts at the top & bottom molar part of either top or bottom aligner to fit the buttons and elastic band.
As for the retainer, you can see a strip of plastic jutting out from the teeth area. When worn, it actually touches my gum. There are no numbers, bumps or cuts for the attachments nor button. In fact, my teeth buttons actually fell out when I put on the retainers for the first time due to the pressure applied by the plastic strip.
Simply put, aligners are to help 'move' your teeth while retainers are used to 'retain' their position. I hope these physical differences and technical explanation of their uses will satisfy your curiousity as to what goes into my mouth LOL :p FYI, they both tend to turn yellow after prolonged period of wear, but I clean them both using the same method which I will explain in a future blogpost. Will try to be more hardworking with my Invisalign updates, I'm constantly thinking of new stuff to write for you guys! Hope you've enjoyed this post! :)
Disclaimer: [Sponsored] I have received complimentary Invisalign treatment from Align Technology, Inc & Q&M Dental Surgery JB (Molek) after winning a contest organised by Invisalign & Nuffnang. In exchange for that, I have agreed to promote and write about my Invisalign story. The review is written based on my honest views and personal experiences on the treatment.
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