Orthodontics patients are often somewhat 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 need to be worn.
There’s no standard, one-size-fits-all to orthodontic treatment. Our treatment plans are customized for each patient, to ensure they get the best treatment and results for their needs.
This goes for retainers, too. Every orthodontics patient definitely needs to wear a retainer for some period of time, this time frame varies significantly from person to person. To keep it simple, we’ll lay it out in phases.
Phase 1 - Full-Time Retainer Wear
At first when your braces come off, you’ll probably have to wear your retainer full time, day and night, only taking it out to eat, brush, and floss. This phase of retainer wear usually lasts around 6 months to a year.
Phase 2 - Night Time Retainer Wear
During phase 1, your orthodontist will evaluate your teeth on a regular basis to determine when you can start wearing your retainer nights only. This usually takes place for the remaining time in the year that you no longer have to wear your retainer full time. For instance, if you only have to wear your retainer full time for 6 months, then typically, you’ll have to wear it nights only for another 6 months or so.
Phase 3 - Maintenance
To maintain your straight new smile, you'll have to wear your retainer on a part time basis for the rest of your life. We understand why our patients are sometimes dismayed about this news, but your straight smile may not stay that way without continued retainer wear.
Although the bone grows back around your teeth and anchors them in place, it’s still possible for them to eventually shift back out of position later on.
To keep your teeth where they belong, orthodontists usually suggest patients wear their retainers about 3 - 5 times a week for life.
This may be mildly inconvenient, but the payoff is a straight, healthy smile that stays that way. It’s definitely worth it!