how long do you have to wear a retainer

How Long Do You Have to Wear a Retainer? Advice From Dentist

The end of your long orthodontic treatment could be exciting, but you may be left with one big question about how long do you have to wear a retainer?

Your orthodontist designs a retainer to hold teeth in place after braces are removed. Retainers are usually made in either removable or fixed retainer types. They both serve the same purpose.

In this Dbd guide we are going to discuss when and why should you wear a retainer. You will also find information about how long you have to wear a retainer according to its type. Additionally, we hope frequently asked questions about retainers in the article will help you to get a better insight into the topic.

When should you wear a retainer?

After your braces come off, you may notice that your teeth move back to their original position over time. To ensure the stability of your teeth after any orthodontic treatment you should wear a retainer. Usually, an orthodontist recommends wearing a retainer for at least six months after braces. If you wish to wear them all the time, you can do so.

Why should you wear a retainer?

You should wear your retainer regularly to ensure the stability of your teeth. It will prevent your teeth move back to their original position after the braces are removed. The retainer will help your teeth to stay in their final place.

If you did not wear the retainer after your treatment, there is no point in going through all that trouble to straighten your teeth. They will eventually move back to their original position. Therefore, it is highly advised to wear a retainer for an effective orthodontic treatment.

After you know when and why should you wear a retainer. You may want to know how long should you wear it.

How long do you have to wear a retainer?

how long do you have to wear a retainer

Experts agree that it is best to keep wearing the retainer after the six-month period. This will reduce teeth moving back toward their original positions after any orthodontic treatment. As an extra benefit, it may even change the position of your teeth to improve their appearance. 

Yet, it is advised to keep wearing the retainer as long as possible after the treatment. It would be best if you could wear your retainers every day and night. [1]

As long as you wear retainers, make sure to clean them thoroughly and regularly, just as you did with your braces. If you wish to buy a retainer and plan on wearing it all the time, go ahead and do so! It will help to keep your beautiful smile forever.

Before that, let’s go over different types of retainers, as well as how long you should wear them.

1. How long do you have to wear clear plastic retainers?

how long do you have to wear a plastic retainer

Clear plastic retainers are molded in different shapes. They can be custom-made by an orthodontist or dentist to fit the patient’s specific needs. 

When you get your braces taken off, the orthodontist will probably give you a set of clear retainers that look like mouth guards. They keep your teeth from shifting back into their old position while the new teeth are settling in. 

You have to wear a clear plastic retainer full-time for a few months, then every night for years after that.

You may have to remove your retainers when you eat, brush your teeth or talk. You should never wear clear retainers in the shower, while playing sports or while drinking hot and cold liquids.

Learn More: Can You Drink Water Wearing Clear Plastic Retainers?

Clear plastic retainers are not designed to last for a long time, so they will have to be replaced with a new retainer eventually. 

2. How long do you have to wear Hawley removable retainer?

how long do you have to wear Hawley removable retainer

Hawley retainers are acrylic or metal devices worn on the teeth. It helps to keep your teeth in a new position after the orthodontic treatment. They are often used after some dental procedures, such as tooth movement, for a short time afterward. 

In the beginning, you must wear Hawley removable retainer for at least six months. You can remove them during your daily hygiene routine if you want. You should remove them to eat, drink or brush your teeth. But you can prolong wearing retainers every night rest of your life while you sleep.

Learn More: Can You Drink Water While Wearing Hawley Removable Retainers?

It holds both upper teeth and lower teeth together even though all have their place against each other. Thin plastic material is held on two wires, providing comfort and easy use by patients with less fear of breaking it at night. Hawley retainers are easy to clean as well.

3. How long do you have to wear a permanent retainer?

how long do you have to wear a permanent retainer

A permanent retainer is a device in which metal wire is bonded to the backside of teeth. Thus, it is also called bonded retainers. The way they are most often used is as a stabilizer or support for teeth that have been corrected or moved by braces. They are also worn after some types of orthodontic treatment, for example, after some early tooth loss requiring implants.

A fixed retainer changes tooth position and function significantly than any other type because you wear them all the time. Typically, after any orthodontic treatment people wear fixed retainers for about six months to a few years. The duration is dependent on the severity of your case.

Permanent retainers are more practical in stabilizing newly relocated teeth. Since they are more effective, you may inquire about the cost of fixed retainers, which might be pricey at first but are well worth the expense in the long run. If you do not wear one after braces come off completely, you might have to do an orthodontic procedure all over again! 

How long do you have to wear a retainer after braces?

It may be anywhere from six months to several years or more. But typically, you can wear a retainer after braces for the rest of your life. Again, it depends on how fast or slow your teeth adjust to their new positions once the braces are off. [2]

During the lifespan, you should know how to clean retainers regularly to prevent bacteria build-up. If damaged, they should be replaced right away to avoid teeth shifting in the wrong position.

How long do you have to wear retainers 24/7?

In most cases, your orthodontist will recommend wearing your retainer full-time for a while after you have had braces removed. The length of time varies depending on the complexity of your case. It also varies whether you experienced any teeth shifting during treatment. 

You should wear a retainer at night while you sleep and whenever you are not eating or drinking. It is important to remember that you are more likely to have problems with your teeth shifting again if you stop wearing your retainer.

Yet, orthodontists recommend wearing retainers at night for the first three years after treatment. And also for as long as you need to wear them afterward — even permanently. 

How long do you have to wear retainers after Invisalign?

Invisalign is an invisible method of straightening teeth. The clear plastic trays are designed to gradually move the teeth with minimal interference to your lifestyle.

Right after Invisalign, you have to wear a retainer as much as possible. Usually, people wear it 24 hours per day for two months.

Retainers are designed to hold teeth in place after they have been straightened with orthodontics. Retainers are worn on the top teeth and bottom teeth, so you will need to wear them every night. Wearing the retainer every night is important to keep your straightened teeth over time. This will be recommended by your orthodontist after treatment with Invisalign.

FAQs about wearing retainers

Do you have to wear retainers for life?

Your orthodontist will determine whether you will need life-long retainer therapy or not. If your teeth tend to shift back into their old positions after many years of braces treatment. It may be mandatory for you to wear retainers for life. But this is a very rare case. 
But, wearing removable retainers every night for the rest of your life will keep your straight teeth from moving. You will always have a perfect smile.

How long do you have to wear retainers at night?

Your retainers will need to stay in place for 6 to 8 hours or more during the night, depending on how long you sleep. You should remove them before brushing your teeth and be sure to clean them well at least two times per day. Cleaning will remove plaque and food particles which damage the retainer if left there.

What happens if I stop wearing my retainer?

If you do not wear a retainer after the orthodontic treatment, your teeth will begin to move back to their original position.
As a result, you may have to start the treatment all over again.

Does it hurt to wear retainers for a long time?

In some cases, you may have to wear retainers forever.  But wearing retainers for a long time can be difficult and uncomfortable. If it hurts to wear a retainer, you should identify the reason why your retainer hurts and discuss the possibility of switching to a new method of treatment or reducing the retainer wear time with your orthodontist.

Can you drink water with retainers?

You can drink water with permanent retainers. But avoid eating and drinking with removable retainers. They may collect food particles and be difficult to clean. This could lead to growing plaque and bacteria that can damage your teeth.

How to clean retainers?

Always clean your retainer after you eat, drink, or smoke. When cleaning tooth retainers, the process is like brushing your teeth. You should use a soft toothbrush and water for the best results. Avoid hard brushes. A stiff brush will make them brittle.
You can also soak it in lukewarm water or mouthwash for approximately 15 minutes. It is important to remember to avoid using hot water as it may deform your retainers and make them unusable.

Final thoughts

Retainer wear time depends on its type. If you are wearing a clear plastic retainer, it should be worn for at least six months after your braces come off and then as needed thereafter. Hawley removable retainers should also be worn for at least 6 months or until the wire is pulled from the teeth, whichever comes first. A permanent retainer will need to stay in place indefinitely if there is still room between teeth that needs filling. Retainers can be removed during meals and cleaned before being put back into position again afterward.

Retainers are a great way to keep teeth in their position after braces, but they are not always easy. It can be hard to remember the best time of day and night for wearing them and how long you should wear them each day. After reading this Dbd guide you now know how long do you have to wear retainers as well as when and how often you need to wear them. You might also have an answer for what happens if you stop using your retainer, too!

Well, we hope this Dbd guide helps you to make informed decisions about wearing retainers, and if you have any other concerns always ask your orthodontist.

Do not forget to share this information with your friends and family.

About the author

RN Lisa Green
RN Lisa Green
Registered Nurse | + posts

As a Registered Nurse, Lisa Green has worked in hospitals, nursing homes, and community health centers across New York. With extensive experience in patient education on various medical topics, she is also passionate about helping people understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to healthcare. At DbdPost, Lisa covers medical news stories while providing advice about different health topics.

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