How Long Do I Have to Wear a Retainer?

Clean Reatiners

Retainers are essential to the final phase of your orthodontic treatment. Even though you’ve gotten your braces off and your teeth look nice and straight, you will need to maintain that. There are multiple types of retainers and which one you get usually determines how long and how often you have to wear it.

What Is a Retainer?

A retainer is a small, often removable, orthodontic appliance that keeps your teeth straight after you get your braces removed. They can look different, but all the different styles provide the same protection and retaining power.

Immediately after getting your retainer, the orthodontist may want you to wear it all day and all night. But the needs of each person are different. Your teeth might be straight after your braces, but they can still move. Retainers keep your teeth from moving back to their crooked or spaced-out positions. Your teeth are most likely to move immediately after getting your braces off, so wearing a retainer as instructed in the beginning is essential.

Types of Retainers

Removable retainers are sometimes made of wire that will fit across the front of your teeth and are attached to an acrylic mold that sits either on the roof of your mouth or under your tongue. Some removable retainers are clear and fit over all of your teeth. There are a few different types of retainers that can be prescribed depending on your particular situation. You will be able to remove these retainers when you eat or brush your teeth. This means you will not get any food in them and are able to clean your teeth effectively. The risk that comes with this type of retainer is because they can be removed, they can also be lost or damaged. You don’t want to have to go back to the orthodontist and invest in having another one made.

Permanent or fixed retainers are thin wire that is cemented to the back of your upper or lower teeth. It usually stretches across several teeth but is invisible from the front. While you can’t remove this type of retainer, it has been proven to have the best results in keeping your teeth straight and fixed in their positions. But it is not for everyone. In some cases, it is used in combination with a removeable retainer.

How Long Will You Have to Wear Your Retainer?

This question can only be answered by your orthodontist, but patients can sometimes be prescribed to wear their retainers all day every day for 4-6 months. This is the average time it takes for your teeth to settle and set into place. Then the time may be reduced to 8 hours a day.


Read more about retainers and taking care of your teeth here.


Your orthodontist will most likely recommend that you continue to wear your retainer 8 hours a day even after the first year. If you have a permanent retainer, however, you will most likely have it attached to the back of your teeth indefinitely. This shouldn’t cause any problems or discomfort and will ensure your teeth stay straight forever. It is possible to have a permanent retainer removed, but only if your dentist or orthodontist recommends it.

Retention is a lifetime commitment if you want to keep your teeth like they were the day you had your braces removed. While this is a big commitment, it’s worth it to keep your teeth straight and healthy. If you have any questions about retainers and which one is best for you, call us today at (843) 4-BRACES to schedule an exam at our Mt Pleasant orthodontist office or one of our other convenient Lowcountry locations.

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