How Long Do I Need to Wear My Retainer?

November 10, 2019

retainer So you just finished your Invisalign or braces treatment and you’re ready to go with your retainer. Or maybe you finished quite some time ago and are wondering whether you still need to wear your retainers at night.

Either way, after completing braces or Invisalign, your orthodontist will give you a retainer. It can be a bit of bummer to finally be done all of that hard work, only to be given some more metal for your mouth.

Most orthodontists advise their patients to wear their retainers for the rest of their lives. However, the retainers only need to be worn at night and skipping a night here and there is no big deal. So retainers really aren’t so bad! Except at the very start of your treatment, you’ll be asleep while it’s in any way.

Why Do I Need a Retainer?

Your teeth are in perfect alignment, and you look great! Let’s keep it that way!

While your teeth are settled, the bones and ligaments that hold them in place will need to play catch-up for a few months. That’s why for the first 3-6 months, you will need to wear the retainers 22 out of 24 hours per day, just taking them out to eat and brush your teeth.

Eventually, the bones and ligaments will be adjusted to your new smile, and you can just wear the retainers at night (or while you sleep). However, for the rest of your life, your teeth will be undergoing a process called mesial drift. In mesial drift, your teeth will always be slowly heading back to their original positions. The best way to combat it is with a retainer.

The Stages of Wearing a Removable Retainer

Some orthodontists prefer to affix a permanent retainer behind your teeth. As the name would imply, your permanent retainer can only be removed by an orthodontist. If your retainer falls out, or your orthodontist removes it, you will be given a removable retainer to wear while you sleep.

The majority of orthodontists will opt for removable retainers that you will wear on this approximate schedule:

The First 3-6 Months: This is the time when your bone tissue and ligaments have not yet grown in around your new smile. To prevent your teeth from shifting, you will need to wear your retainer 22 hours out of the day.

The First 2 Years: After your initial time of full-time wear, you will be able to start wearing your retainers during sleep only.

From the Third Year to the Rest of Your Life: Now, you can get away with wearing your retainers a little less often. Every day is still best, but a few nights off of wearing it won’t undo much of your progress. Try to wear them at least every other night.

Colorado Family OrthodonticsIf you’re looking for orthodontic treatment, our office works with Colorado Family Orthodontics for orthodontic services for our patients. CO Family Orthodontics is a top-rated network of practices with almost 30 years of experience serving the Denver and Rocky Mountain area.