How Long Do You Have to Wear a Retainer?


You made it! You finally got your braces off. So now you’re done, right? Well, not completely. Now that your teeth are in the right position, the next step is retention. You want your teeth to stay in the proper alignment for the rest of your life. But in order for that to happen, you’ll need to wear retainers for a while. The minimum time frame is about 9 months before the teeth are set in place enough to be less likely to relapse.

What is a Retainer?

A retainer is typically a removable appliance you wear to keep your teeth in place after having your braces removed. It may be made of a combination of acrylic and metal or all plastic. The acrylic portion sits against the roof of your mouth on the upper and against the inside of the jaw on the lower teeth. The metal wraps around your teeth to hold the retainer and teeth in place.  

Your retainers are made by taking a scan or impression of your teeth. The retainers are custom created to precisely fit the shape of your mouth and your teeth. No two retainers are ever the same.

Do I Need to Wear My Retainers During the Day?

We recommend wearing your retainers full time for the first 9 months. Only taking them out to eat and brush your teeth. Eventually, your teeth become more stable and your bone solidifies around the new position of your teeth. Your orthodontist will let you know when you are ready to move to night wear.

How Long Will I Need to Wear them at Night?

You need to plan on having a set of retainers that you wear to bed for the rest of your life. Think of it as your insurance policy. If you have a set of retainers that you take in and out properly, store properly, and  fit comfortably, your teeth should stay straight forever. You want to think about retiring with retainers instead of dentures. If your retainers ever feel tight when you put them in at night, you may need to increase your wear. This may mean wearing them during the day again. Typically you can never over wear your retainers! 

Again, for best results and to ensure that your teeth never shift out of proper alignment, you should wear your retainers at night for the rest of your life. It may eventually be ok to skip a night or two, but always make sure to wear them for a few consecutive nights after taking a break.  

What Happens if I Don’t Wear My Retainers?

If you don’t wear your retainers according to your orthodontist’s instructions, you run the risk of losing all of the progress you made while wearing braces. You may even have to get braces put back on and go through the same process all over again. If you don’t want to do that, be sure to wear your retainers as instructed by your orthodontist.

How Do I Clean My Retainers?

The best way to clean your retainers is to brush them with your toothbrush and toothpaste just like you do your teeth. Always rinse them in cold water afterwards, as hot water can damage the retainer. It is not recommended that you soak them in denture cleaner or mouthwash, as neither product is designed for retainers.The alcohol in most mouthwashes will denature the acrylic and make it more and more difficult to clean. There are some great products out there that are made for cleaning retainers like Retainer Brite and UV Pod.

What Happens if I Lose My Retainers?

It is important to be careful with your retainers because they can be expensive to replace. Always store them in the case your orthodontist provides. Keep them up and away from pets as they tend to chew them. Don’t put them on your plate or tray while eating, because you are likely to throw them away accidentally.

Follow the Recommendation of Demko Orthodontics on Retainer Wear

Whether you’re a patient of ours or not, Demko Orthodontics can advise you on retainer wear and evaluate the current fit of yours. If you’re looking for an orthodontist to start orthodontics treatment for you or your child, we would be glad to offer you a complimentary consultation.

Contact us or call any of our 3 convenient locations to schedule an appointment: 

St. Charles: 636-946-6503

Washington: 636-239-2272

Chesterfield: 314-576-4955

We look forward to helping you improve your smile and keep it looking great for a lifetime.