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How Long Do You Have to Wear a Retainer?

child learning how long he has to wear his retainer

The short answer is—for life. Yes, to maintain your beautiful end result after your braces or Invisalign® treatment, it’s best that you wear your retainer for life.

Don’t be alarmed, though! We know that probably sounds overwhelming right now. You won’t have to wear your retainer 24 hours a day for the rest of your life. After about a year of consistent wear, you’ll be able to wear your retainer only a few nights a week for it to do its job.

Now that we’ve recovered from the initial panic, let’s dive into why your retainer is so important and how often you’ll be wearing it from the start.

How long should I wear my retainer after my braces or Invisalign treatment is over?

The day your braces are finally removed or you take out your Invisalign clear aligners for the last time, you’ll be given a removable retainer and the option of a fixed retainer. When you’re just beginning the retention phase, you’ll be advised to wear your retainer throughout the day and night for about six months.

Wearing your retainer right after your braces or Invisalign treatment is over is essential for maintaining your new smile. Your teeth are especially susceptible to ‘relapsing’ (reverting back to their original position) during the first few months.

Without the support of your braces or Invisalign clear aligners, your teeth have the tendency to shift. They need continued support to solidify in their new position.

Can I wear my retainer only at night?

Before long, yes, you’ll be able to wear your retainer only at night! For people who have fixed (permanent) retainers, you’ll never have to think about wearing your retainer. It’ll be in place, retaining your new smile at all times.

As for your removable retainer, you’ll have the freedom to take it out during the day (after a few months of wear), clean it and soak it as often as you need.

Once you’re able to wear your retainer only at night—and we’ll tell you when you can do this—your teeth will have settled into their final position. Although, your teeth do still need support from your retainer, so don’t let it accumulate dust in your retainer case.

Will my teeth shift without a retainer for a week?

How vulnerable your teeth are to shifting after a week of not wearing your retainer will depend on where you are in your retention phase. If it’s your first week wearing your retainer and you don’t wear it for the next week, you can expect some shifting!

If you’ve been wearing your retainer for a year and you don’t wear it for a week, you probably won’t experience any significant shifting. This doesn’t mean you should risk it, though!

Throughout your retention process, if you find it difficult to fit your retainer in your mouth at any point, do not force it. The last thing you want to do is damage your retainer or your teeth! Never force a retainer back in your mouth. Give us a call and we’ll see you as soon as possible to adjust your retainer.

We know this is a lot of information, and if you’re in the beginning of your orthodontic journey, this is probably a lot to consider. Rest assured that we’ll tell you everything you need to know when you’re nearing the end of your braces or Invisalign treatment. How often to wear your retainer, how long to wear your retainer and which retainer will best suit your lifestyle—we’ll discuss all of this in detail!

In the meantime, if you have any questions about proper retainer wear, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re more than happy to discuss your retainer with you!

If you haven’t received your complimentary consultation yet, we encourage you to request yours today.