How Long Do You Have to Have a Retainer For?

So, you’ve finished your treatment with clear aligners and finally have the smile you’ve been waiting for, but now you’ve been told to wear your retainer. But just how long do you have to have a retainer? The role of clear aligners is to shift your teeth to a more desired position for a better looking smile. EZ SMILE helps people achieve the smile they’ve always wanted by providing clear aligner treatments to those who need minor to moderate cosmetic changes to their teeth. Clear aligner treatment can change the way your teeth look by progressively altering the positions of your teeth with multiple sets of clear plastic aligners. Once you have used the last set of clear aligners, you need to wear a retainer to keep your teeth in that position. This article will help answer the question, ‘How long do you need retainers?’, so that once you have finished your treatment, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Why Retainers are Important?

You might be wondering why it is so important to have retainers in the first place! Well, in the same way your teeth can move into the perfect position with the help of clear aligners, they can also move out of this preferred position if you don’t continue to wear clear aligners on a consistent basis. This is where retainers come in. Retainers are worn after you have used the last set of clear aligners in your plan and keep your teeth looking as they did at the end of your treatment. During the straightening of your teeth, the ligaments and connective tissue in your teeth and gums are being loosened in order to shift your teeth into their new positions. Once your clear aligner treatment is complete, your ligaments need time to settle into their new positions. At this stage, your teeth will be requiring something to hold them in their new position. How long you wear retainers full-time can vary from person to person, but it is expected that you wear your retainers full-time for the first 2-3 weeks (the longer you can do it the better) and then every night for the next 12-24 months. Following this, you should wear your retainers for a few nights each week to maintain your smile.

What Happens if You Don’t Wear Your Retainer?

Before considering the question of, ‘How long do you have to have a retainer for?’, what happens if you don’t wear your retainer? Retainers are necessary to keep your teeth exactly as they are when your treatment is completed. If you don’t wear your retainer, your teeth can move back into their original position and you can lose all of your hard work! Irregular use of retainers (only a couple of nights a week for example) is not enough to allow the teeth to settle and can eventually lead to minor relapses or shifting in your teeth. Your retainers must be worn full-time for the first few weeks following your treatment and then every night for the next 12-24 months after that.

How Long Do You Need Retainers For?

At the end of your clear aligner treatment, you will need to ensure that you wear your retainer. The length of time that you will be wearing your retainer can be split into 3 stages. For the first 2-4 weeks post treatment, you should be wearing your retainer full-time, meaning every day and night, this is the first stage of wearing a retainer. If you are wanting to know how long do you have to have a retainer after this first stage, then you’ll find that the answer is not clear cut. How long you wear retainers may vary from person to person but as a general rule of thumb you’ll want to be wearing your retainer every night for the next 12-24 months following the full-time wearing period, this is the second stage. In the third and final stage, you will be wearing your retainer for a few nights a week to stop your teeth moving back to how they were. While you will have to wear your retainer for a few nights each week indefinitely, this is no reason to panic as all of the work is being done while you are asleep.

How Many Hours Do I Need to Wear Retainers for In a Day?

To answer how long do I wear retainers, it is important to understand that the amount you will be wearing your retainers depends on how long it has been since you finished your treatment. As a general rule you can follow the 3 stage plan. Stage 1 involves wearing the retainers full-time as you would with your aligners. This stage lasts 2-4 weeks. Stage 2 involves wearing your retainers every night for the next 12-24 months and stage 3 involves wearing your retainers for a few nights each week indefinitely.

Permanent vs. Removable Retainers

Permanent or fixed retainers are metal wires that are glued to the back of your teeth after your straightening treatment. They are very common with orthodontists who give them to patients after their braces. Permanent retainers are attached to your teeth in order to retain the alignment you achieved with braces. There are some great things about permanent retainers like their invisibility from the front, effectiveness and not having to think about them once attached. However, they can be uncomfortable, make brushing and flossing more difficult and you can also damage the wire with certain foods. Another worry people have with fixed retainers is how long do you have retainers for. Permanent retainers are what they sound like, but do need to replaced eventually.

Removable retainers are like clear aligners that are shaped to fit your teeth and retain their correct alignment. People love removable retainers because they can be taken out of your mouth for eating and cleaning, brushing and flossing is super easy, you can easily clean your retainer and the process of wearing them is non-invasive and simple. They come with the risk of forgetting to wear them and losing some progress but, as long as you wear them consistently, this should not be an issue.

Overall, your answer to how long do you have to have a retainer is not really impacted by the type of retainer you use as both require indefinite use and all teeth straightening requires ongoing retention.

How to Take Care of Your Retainers

If you asked, ‘How long do I wear retainers?’, you will have found that you need to wear your retainers indefinitely, even though it may be just a few nights a week after a 12 or 24 month period of using them. This means that it is super important to maintain and care for your retainers. While life will always be unpredictable and your retainers may eventually become damaged, there are a few tricks that you can use to give your retainers the longest life possible.

The first tip is to try to leave your retainer alone when it is in your mouth. If you are fiddling with your retainer with your tongue or teeth or taking it in and out of your mouth, you are increasing the risk of it breaking.

Mouths are dirty places, full of bacteria so it is very important to keep your retainers as clean as possible. However, damage can also occur if you are cleaning your retainers too aggressively. It is important to clean your retainers and their case to prevent any issues with oral hygiene and as well as plaque build-up which can make your retainers more visible. Make sure to clean them consistently but be gentle with them.

You should also have a designated safe spot for your retainers to prevent them being lost or damaged. EZ SMILE provides a case for your retainers, so use that whenever they are not in your mouth to protect them. 

It is always a good idea to have a spare retainer ready in case they are lost, damaged or break, this way you are not having to go without wearing them whilst waiting on a new one.

How to Get the Smile of Your Dreams

If you are asking the question, ‘How long do you have retainers for?’, and you still don’t have a treatment plan using clear aligners to straighten your teeth, then why not jump onto the EZ SMILE website to complete the free 30 second assessment to see if you are eligible. EZ SMILE’s clear aligners are your best option if you are looking for an affordable, hassle-free way to get the smile you’ve always wanted.