What Happens if You Don't Wear Your Invisalign Aligners

Forgetting to wear your Invisalign aligners can result in a relapse.

 Invisalign is a wonderful orthodontic option with many benefits to the patient. It’s comfortable, clear and removable. But one of their biggest advantages is also a disadvantage. What happens when you don’t wear your aligners the prescribed amount of time? 

“Because the aligners can be removed, patients can take them out and forget to put them back in,” says Dr. Jennifer Eisenhuth, a Minnesota orthodontist. “And that can mean the patient can experience a relapse. Each series of aligners is custom created to guide your teeth into their ideal locations, and are calibrated based on proper wear. Forgetting to wear your aligner, or making the choice to not wear it as prescribed, can result in your aligner not fitting properly when you put it back in.”

Dr. Eisenhuth explains that this is because the teeth will have drifted back to their previous locations. During orthodontic treatment, your teeth are loosened from their old positions as they are guided into their new ones. The tissues that hold the teeth in place are elastic. That means if they aren’t used to the new locations, they’ll bounce back to bring the teeth to their old place. 

Orthodontic treatment has to loosen your teeth so they can shift into their proper places. Some people who have taken their aligners off say when they put it back on, it feels tighter – even just an hour or two of being off. 

You might think taking your aligner out for a few hours so you can have a big night out without worrying about it might not be a big deal. And while that may be true once, it can become easier to come up with reasons not to wear the aligners. Forgetting or choosing not to wear it for several hours every day will throw your treatment off track. Add in the pressure you put on your teeth each day in the form of eating, clenching and grinding, and you’ve got an environment perfect for teeth to relapse. 

Dr. Eisenhuth recommends that aligners be worn a minimum of 22 hours a day. They should only be removed to eat, drink, and care for your teeth. 

Invisalign is not meant to be removed anytime you have a party, dance or other occasion,” says Dr. Eisenhuth. “When making the decision about Invisalign treatment, patients have to understand that the success of their treatment depends on their proper wear of the aligners. This is also why Invisalign is a great treatment for older patients, but not necessarily ideal for adolescents who may forget their aligners.” 

If you forget to wear your aligners, you may need an adjustment made to your treatment plan. It is important to maintain all regular check-ups with your orthodontist to be sure your treatment remains on track.