Wearing a retainer is generally part of the orthodontic treatment process and is very crucial to ensuring that your teeth stay in place.
You might wonder how long do you need to wear a retainer. As long as your orthodontist tells you to, of course! However, when people start to ask questions about how long do you have retainers? Do I have to wear my retainers forever? How long do retainers last? And how long to wear retainer? What they are really asking is: is this something that you’ll have to do forever or do you wear it for a time and then reach a point when you no longer have to ask how long wear retainer?
The good news is that depending on the type of retainer, you may only have to wear it full-time for 3-4 months (Ramazanzadeh B et al., 2018).
Still, there are many reasons why individuals may ask the question:
How long do you wear retainers?
One reason that is incredibly common is simply because after having worn your braces or other orthodontic equipment for so long, most individuals are simply ready to have appliances out of their mouth and never have to wear them again. Although this is perfectly understandable, there are problems associated with this concept.
One is that it can cause you to stop following your treatment plan far sooner than you should. It is absolutely essential that you do not do this as it took you months and possibly even years to be able to get your teeth into this proper position through utilizing braces or other orthodontic work. The last thing you want to do is to undo all of that progress for a small bit of temporary comfort.
How long wear the retainer
It might feel like you need to ask do I have to wear my retainer forever? The fact is that retainers are an incredibly important part of your orthodontic treatment program and removing them too soon can have devastating consequences for all of the progress you have made so far in getting your teeth straightened.
Experts have noted that the success of orthodontic treatment depends mostly on ensuring the teeth remain in the corrected position after the active phase of treatment (Ramazanzadeh B et al., 2018).
How long to wear the retainer
Retainers, as the name suggests, are designed to retain your teeth in the new positions. However, although they might feel firmly set, the truth is that after having undergone significant orthodontic work, your teeth are actually quite malleable compared to how they were originally. It will take time for your teeth to set properly and completely into the new positions. If you remove your retainers too soon, teeth will oftentimes begin to revert back into the original positions they started from. Or, they could become crooked because they are drifting.
Wearing retainers is an important part of your follow-up treatment, without which you will not be able to keep that beautiful straight smile for long. But that, of course, leads to the question, how long do you actually have to wear them for?
Do I have to wear my retainer forever?
The simple answer is as long as your orthodontic office tells you to. The more complicated answer is it depends. The fact that matters is that all individuals are, well, individuals. Your individual treatment time will vary just as the treatment time for your orthodontics varies as well. With that in mind, it’s important to think about what your orthodontist is telling you.
If your orthodontic office tells you that you will need to wear them for at least several years, then that is something that you should plan on doing as it is not in your best interest to go against the medical device you have been given. Remember, your orthodontist planned this treatment based on your unique jaw and teeth alignment needs. He or she is having you wear a retainer to protect this investment you have made.
How long do you have to wear retainers?
The more complicated answer to how long to wear your retainer is that the longer you wear your retainer and take care of your retainer, the more safe it will be for you to take it out for a while even if you take it out before the approved time.
For instance, if your orthodontic office recommends that you wear your retainer for three years and you slip in your diligence at wearing your retainer at two and a half years, your chance of reverting is far lower than if you stopped wearing it after only the first six months. However, this should not be interpreted as a license to do so, as your orthodontic office has your best interest in mind and wants to help retain the smile that you worked hard to get.
Research shows that teeth can revert to pre- treatment positions up to 5 years after the active treatment phase is complete (Ramazanzadeh B et al., 2018).
How long do retainers last
The next question people often have is how long do orthodontic retainers last for? Depending on the type of retainer you have, it can last anywhere from half a year to a lifetime. Cheap retainers that are only required for a small period of time oftentimes will not last more than 6 months to a year. Higher quality retainers, ones that you may need for long-term retaining of the teeth, can oftentimes last for many years if taken care of properly.
The single biggest factor on how long your retainer will last is ultimately you. If you abuse your retainer by simply stuffing it into pockets or bags when you’re not using it, fail to properly clean it, and rough handling it or rough cleaning it, you will find that your retainer’s lifespan is significantly lower than it would be if you cleaned it appropriately, stored it correctly, and handled it gently.
Your retainer is an orthodontic apparatus that is specially designed and fitted just for you. If you bend, push, squish, contour, or tug at it, you are going to undo the fine finessing of its shape and possibly damage the wires that are designed to help keep your teeth retained in the correct position.
These are some of the reasons why nearly every orthodontic office recommends getting a retainer carrying case as this will help minimize any damage that may be caused to your retainer when it’s not in your mouth. They will also give you guidelines on how to brush and clean your retainer to make sure you maximize its lifespan.
With the fate of your beautiful smile at stake, don’t take a risk with stopping use of your retainer early. Instead, talk with your orthodontic office and find out what you need to do to protect you and your beautiful smile.
Ramazanzadeh, B., Ahrari, F., & Hosseini, Z. S. (2018). The retention characteristics of Hawley and vacuum-formed retainers with different retention protocols. Journal of clinical and experimental dentistry, 10(3), e224–e231. https://doi.org/10.4317/jced.54511
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Call us at (786) 540-1919 to schedule a free orthodontic exam.
What Happens If You Don’t Wear Your Retainer Correctly