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Don’t Forget To Wear Your Retainer, But For How Long?


December 20th, 2021

After several long years, you’re finally getting your braces off. But wait, there’s more! Now it’s time for retainers. 

Remembering to put in your retainer every night can be annoying and inconvenient. So after a while, you may wonder: when can I stop wearing my retainer? The answer is, most likely, never. You should expect to wear your retainer to some degree for the rest of your life. 

That’s probably not the answer you wanted to hear, but the reason is because teeth continue to move throughout your lifetime, and could revert back to the way they were before you got braces. The more you wear your retainer, the better. Read on for more information about retainer use. 

What Are Retainers?

After you are done with braces, you’ll need orthodontic retainers. Retainers keep everything in place and keep your teeth from moving back to their original positions. Retainers are used on both the top and bottom sets of teeth. They consist of plates that sit inside your mouth, with wires that wrap around the front of the teeth. These retainers can be taken out when eating or for cleaning. Think of retainers as protection for your investment. 

Different Types of Retainers

There are three main types of retainers:

  • Traditional. These consist of plates, with wires around the front to keep teeth in place. 
  • Plastic. These wrap all the way around teeth, like aligners.
  • Permanent. A permanent retainer is affixed to your teeth until the orthodontist removes it. It consists of a thin wire glued to the back of your teeth.

How Long Do I Have To Wear My Retainer?

After having braces for several years, you may be mentally done with orthodontic work. So you may wonder: how long do I have to wear my retainer? Check with your orthodontist, but don’t be surprised if they tell you to wear your retainer for the rest of your life. 

When you can stop wearing your retainer will depend on your teeth as well as your orthodontist’s point of view. There’s a rule of thumb that says you should wear your retainer a little longer than you wore braces. So if you wore braces for two years, then wear your retainer for 2 ½ years. 

Other orthodontists will say at least 10 years. Some will tell you to wear them for the rest of your life. Take your orthodontist’s advice and wear your retainers as much as possible.

In any case, the first six months are the most important. Your teeth will want to move out of place, so plan to wear your retainer all the time. After this period, you can transition to nighttime wear only. 

Contact Us Today

Having to wear an orthodontic retainer for many years may not be your idea of fun, but blame it on your teeth. Teeth keep moving throughout your life, so regular retainer use will keep them straighter for longer. Contact Urban Orthodontics for questions about your retainer today!

Dr. Chelian is an orthodontist in Union City New Jersey. After completing his orthodontic specialty residency at Roseman University, he practiced orthodontics in Nevada and Arizona before ultimately settling in New Jersey. Dr. Chelian is passionate about all things ortho!

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