Many of our patients are a little dismayed to learn that they will have to wear a retainer after their braces treatment is complete. Here’s some information about retainers, and how long they should be worn.
Orthodontic treatment is different for each and every patient. Our treatment plans are customized to ensure our patients get the best treatment and results for their needs.
The same goes for retainers. While Every orthodontic patient needs to wear a retainer for some period of time after treatment, the frame can vary significantly from one person to another. To keep it simple, we’ll lay it out in phases.
Phase 1 - Full-Time Retainer Wear
When your braces are first removed, you’ll likely need to wear your retainer full time, day and night, only taking it out to to eat, brush, and floss. This phase lasts around 6 months to a year for most people.
Phase 2 - Night Time Retainer Wear
During phase 1, your orthodontist will evaluate your teeth regularly to determine when you can start wearing your retainer nights only. Night-only wear usually takes place for the remaining time in the year that you are no longer wearing your retainer full time. For instance, if you only have to wear your retainer full time for 6 months, then you’ll have to wear it nights only for another 6 months or so.
Phase 3 - Maintenance
To maintain the results of your orthodontic treatment, you'll have to wear your retainer on a part time basis for the rest of your life. We understand why some of our patients are disappointed to hear this, but the fact of the mater is that your smile may not stay straight without continued retainer wear.
The bone does grow back around your teeth, anchoring them in place, but it’s still possible for them to eventually shift back out of position down the road.
To make sure your teeth stay where they belong, orthodontists usually suggest patients wear their retainers about 3 - 5 times a week for life.
The mild inconvenience of this is more than worth it for the payoff of a straight, healthy, functional smile!