Many patients are disappointed 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.
Everyone is different, and there’s no standard, one-size-fits-all to orthodontic treatment. That’s why our treatment plans are customized for each patient, to ensure they get the best treatment and results possible.
The same goes for retainers. Although every orthodontics patient definitely needs to wear a retainer for some period of time, this time frame differs from person to person. To keep it simple, we’ll lay it out in phases.
Phase 1 - Full-Time Retainer Wear
After your braces first come off, you’ll probably have to wear your retainer full time, day and night, only taking it out to 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 regularly evaluate your teeth to determine when you can begin 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. So, if you only have to wear your retainer full time for 6 months, then typically, you’ll wear it at night 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. Our patients are sometimes dismayed about this news, but the fact is that your straight smile may not stay that way without continued retainer wear.
Although the bone grows back around your teeth, anchoring them in their new positions after treatment, it’s still possible for them to eventually shift back out of position later on.
To keep them where they belong, orthodontists usually suggest patients wear their retainers about 3 - 5 times a week for life.
While this may be mildly inconvenient, the payoff is a straight, healthy smile that stays that way. It’s definitely worth it!