How Long Do I Have to Wear a Retainer After Braces?

Retainer After Braces

Congrats on finishing your journey of braces in Johns Creek! Now that you’ve got the dream smile you always wanted, it’s important to take proactive measures to ensure it stays the same. This is why you’re going to be prescribed a retainer after braces are taken out.

Just how important are they and is it really necessary to wear them? Keep reading to find out!

Why Do I Have to Wear Retainer After Braces?

The moment patients finish their braces or Invisalign treatment in Johns Creek, the first thing that needs to be done is to create a personalized plan for wearing retainers. Your teeth are now in their new positions, but they can shift back to their old alignment because of their memory, and you need to take proactive measures to prevent that.

As your teeth move, they leave gaps behind in the surrounding bone and other tissue. Wearing retainers can help keep your teeth in place while the tissue catches up. This is why it’s very crucial to wear your retainers constantly for the first three to six months post-treatment.

There’s this process called a mesial drift which means that your teeth are constantly moving. Wearing retainers can prevent this from happening as time goes by.

To maintain that straight smile you achieved from your treatment, you will have to wear your retainers every night for the remainder of your life. While that sounds bothersome, don’t let it discourage you because after some time the frequency of wearing retainers decreases.

Though the process becomes slower and slower, if you stop wearing your retainer, your teeth will gradually move back to their original position. 

The Different Types of Retainers

Depending on the circumstances of your teeth, you are given either a removable or a fixed retainer, or maybe even both. At the same time, your orthodontist will instruct you for how long and when to wear the retainer to get the best results possible.

So, what is the difference between the two? Keep reading to see how each retainer differs.

Removable retainer

With removable retainers, you’ll usually wear it full-time for about four months to a year after braces, depending on your orthodontist’s instructions. And you’re only supposed to remove them if you’re eating or brushing your teeth. Once the prescribed period of time has been surpassed, your orthodontist will assess your teeth and determine whether or not you have to wear your retainer much longer.

Even if your orthodontist detects no tooth movement following the time you wear your retainer, they might recommend keeping your retainer on only during the night for further assurance your straightened teeth are stable. This could be for a few months or years more – or, depending on your teeth, indefinitely.

Fixed retainer

You don’t have to remember to wear it again after eating or brushing your teeth when you have a fixed retainer. It is adhered to your teeth in an unnoticeable spot, typically at the back of your teeth, and you may have to wear the retainer for much longer, it can take up to years.

Since you can’t remove a fixed retainer while eating, it’s possible that periodontal issues may occur if you don’t have good oral hygiene. However, fixed retainers have a higher chance of retaining all the benefits your braces gave you because of how it’s keeping your teeth stable constantly.

retainer after braces

How Many Hours a Day Do I Wear Retainer After Braces?

If you have a fixed retainer, then you will be wearing it all throughout the day. But, if you have a removable retainer, then it will depend on what the orthodontist has instructed you.

The standard guideline for a removable retainer to wear it full-time with the exception of eating and cleaning the teeth. This will typically go on for the first four to six months after having your braces removed.

According to this 2010 survey, orthodontists have recommended patients to wear their removable retainer full-time for at least nine months after the removal of braces. 

If your orthodontist has given you the go signal, then you can cut back on the number of hours wearing the retainer and perhaps only wear it while you sleep.

How Long Do I Wear My Retainers After Braces?

According to the same survey aforementioned, about 58% of orthodontists prefer to give removable retainer after braces treatment. They also mentioned to wear the retainers daily for nine months to get the best results possible. After that, patients can opt to wear their braces on a nightly basis.

You have to continuously wear a retainer, and it’s possible to replace it after a few years. 40% of the respondents in the survey mentioned that they choose to prescribe permanent lingual retainers that are adhered to the teeth for the rest of the patient’s life.

Whichever kind of retainer has been prescribed to you by the orthodontist in Johns Creek, it’s plausible that you’ll be instructed to wear it indefinitely.

What Happens if I Don’t Wear My Retainer After Braces? 

Your teeth continuously moves all throughout your life. And if you’ve undergone orthodontic treatment, then you’re probably aware of the fact that your teeth’s location can shift depending on certain aspects like your age and wearing orthodontic tools.

Even if your orthodontic treatment has finished, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re teeth will only stay in one place.

If you neglect to wear your retainer and choose not to follow your orthodontist’s instructions, then your teeth will have a tendency to move back into their old alignment. This is also known as relapsing.

Forgetting to wear your retainer for a long time may require you to undergo orthodontic intervention again within ten years or maybe even sooner. Skipping on wearing your retainer for a couple of weeks or months may cause your teeth to shift and there’s a chance that retainer might not fit your teeth properly anymore.


Don’t neglect your retainers, we know how tempting it is to just not wear them because you’ve been wearing braces for a long time now. But, your teeth will thank you for it!

For any concerns regarding braces and retainers, Contact us or leave us a message and we’ll be more than glad to help you.

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