How Long is Too Long to Wear a Retainer?

Orthodontic Retainers in Austin Texas

One concern patients have after orthodontic treatment is how long must they wear a retainer. There isn’t a clear answer, as several things influence how long a retainer is needed. The best option is to wear your retainer for as long as recommended by your orthodontist.

Retainers Make Orthodontic Treatments Worthwhile

Retainers maintain the results achieved from orthodontic treatment. Failing to consistently wear your retainer can cause the teeth to return to their original position. This is true for all orthodontic treatments that reposition the teeth.

Teeth will remain in a new position after about a year. But before that, they want to shift back into their old positions. This is usually because of a lack of bone to keep them stable. Wearing a retainer trains your teeth to remain in place while the bone forms in the new position.

Retainer Timeline

You must start wearing a retainer as soon as your braces are gone. For the first three to six months, you should expect to wear your retainer at least 22-hours a day. Your orthodontist will let you know when to start wearing your retainer only at night. But even then, you will have to wear the retainer every night for at least 12-months straight. After that period, you may reduce wear to every other night. This is a routine you’ll have to follow probably indefinitely.

Return to nightly wear if the retainer starts to feel too tight. This gives the retainer a chance to loosen and become more comfortable. Most teeth naturally shift forward with age. Wearing your retainer regularly can help avoid shifting.

Kinds of Retainers

Three common types of retainer are:

1. Hawley retainers consist of a metal wire wrapped around a certain number of teeth, usually 6 at a time. The wire secures the teeth in the correct position. It’s possible to simultaneously wear this type of retainer on your upper teeth and lower set of teeth. With the proper care, a Hawley retainer can last up to 8-years.

2. Bonded retainers are also known as permanent retainers. A bonded retainer consists of a wire secured to the back of your teeth. The wire holds your teeth in the correct position. This type of retainer can fit the upper or lower teeth, but generally isn’t recommended for both. You must carefully brush and floss around the wire daily. When well maintained, a bonded retainer can last up to 5-years.

3. Essix retainers are possibly the most well-known. These clear snap on retainers fit over the teeth. They are made of clear plastic and require daily thorough cleaning. The Essix retainer lasts for about 3-years or less before it needs replacing.
No matter the type of retainer, you’ll eventually need to replace it. Watch for signs that your retainer is no longer effective. For instance, it might lose its shape. Inspect your retainer for bending, loosening, and cracking.

Maintaining Your Retainer

Your orthodontist will teach you how to care for your retainer. Properly caring for your retainer will help it last longer. It’s also a good idea to occasionally have your retainer inspected and cleaned by your orthodontist. You can do this during follow-up visits to have your teeth checked and cleaned.

Your Retainer is Important

You might dislike the idea of needing to rely on a retainer. But it’s better than having your teeth return to their previous state. If that happens, you may have to undergo orthodontic treatment again.

Are you ready to give start treatment? Make an appointment with Dr. RJ Jackson for a consultation about straightening your teeth with Invisalign in Austin, TX. Dr. RJ will answer all of your questions and concerns about Invisalign and any other dental care questions that you may also have, too. Dr. RJ is a Platinum Invisalign provider and the highest ranked Invisalign provider in Steiner ranch, Grandview Hills,  and Riverplace.