How Long Do I Need to Keep Wearing My Retainer After Braces?

Published on April 26, 2022

A retainer is incredibly important for keeping your teeth in their correct position and maintaining your beautifully straight smile. Discover the truth about how long you should keep wearing your teeth retainers after your dentist or orthodontist removes your braces.

How long do I need to keep wearing my retainer after braces?

As anyone who’s worn dental braces for months or years will know, it’s a wonderful feeling to finally have them removed and be able to ‘feel’ your teeth for the first time in a long time.

Once your dental braces have been removed, your dentist or orthodontist will custom-make a retainer for you to wear.

Retainers play an important role in keeping your teeth in the right position, so your beautiful new smile can stay straight and even into the future.

Why do I need to wear teeth retainers?

When you undergo orthodontic treatment such as braces, your teeth are gradually moved into position to improve alignment or correct other issues, in order to produce a straight and even smile.

Although your teeth’s position has been changed, when you first have your braces removed, the gum and bone holding them in place aren’t yet strong enough to keep them in this position. Retainers hold your teeth in position in the interim.

Over time, the supportive tissue around your teeth will strengthen, ensuring your teeth are less likely to shift back to their original position even without the retainers.

What happens if I don’t wear my teeth retainers?

If you fail to wear your retainer after your orthodontic treatment, your teeth will slowly start moving into their previous (incorrect) position. Unfortunately, this will undo the work of your braces - so retainers are like a protection for your investment!

Do you only need a retainer after having dental braces?

Retainers may be recommended after any teeth straightening treatment or position-correcting procedure, such as Invisalign® or surgery.

How often should I wear my retainer?

In most cases, if you’ve just completed your teeth-straightening orthodontics treatment, you’ll ideally need to wear your retainer full-time - which means only removing it when you’re cleaning it or eating. This is important during the first few months while the supportive tissue around your teeth gets stronger.

Once your teeth have settled into their new position, you can start to wear your retainer less frequently, such as only at night - however, wearing it as much as possible is still better to keep your teeth firmly in place.

Your dentist or orthodontist will be able to give you personalised advice on when you can start wearing your retainer only at night, or even if you need to go back to wearing it full time if they notice your teeth start to move.

How long do I need to keep wearing my teeth retainers?

After your first year of wearing your retainer, you should aim to continue putting it in for at least a few nights each week to keep your teeth in their correct position. While this won’t be as effective as full-time wear, it’s still better than not wearing your retainer at all.

As a general rule, you should continue wearing your retainer for a bit longer than you wore braces for, e.g. if you had braces for a year, you’ll need to wear your retainer as much as possible for a little over a year before reducing your wear.

Another factor at play is the severity of your original condition - if your teeth were extremely crooked before you got your braces, they may be more likely to shift, making wearing your retainer for longer more important.

Your dentist or orthodontist will monitor your teeth during this time and advise you on whether you need to be more strict about wearing your retainers for teeth more often, or if you can drop down to only wearing it at night.

What should I do if my teeth are shifting back into their old position?

If you’re still wearing your retainer yet find that your teeth are moving, it’s important to see your dentist so they can assess your retainer, as it may need to be adjusted to ensure it’s keeping your teeth in the correct position.

If you need advice on teeth straightening treatments, chat with our friendly staff at your local National Dental Care practice. Find your nearest practice, and book online today.

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