How Long Should you Wear a Retainer?

January 03, 2018

One of the memorable days in a patient’s orthodontic journey is when they get their braces off.

“Finally done!”  I often hear from my patients.  But then they hear that they have to wear retainers and that smile quickly turns upside down!

“What do you mean I have to wear retainers?!  For how long?!

Even though we go over this process in the initial consultation, by the time patients finish their treatment they often forget this improtant stage of treatment.

We often get the question:  Do I have to wear my retainer for the rest of my life?  We always answer with a “yes*” but there is a tiny asterisk beside this yes.  The asterisk indicates that retainers (at least removable retainers) are present for life but you should wean off them over time so that you are not wearing them every night.

How long should I have my fixed retainer for?

At Hometown Orthodontics we generally recommend upper and lower fixed or bonded retainers.  You can read more about what bonded or fixed retainers are here.  These retainers are glued to the back of your teeth with dental resin.  We recommend these retainers for a minimum of two years, except if you’re a teen – in which case you will often hear Dr. Virdee say “Come back once you’ve graduated university!”

Why do we recommend fixed retainer for two years.

It takes approximately 1 year for the bone to heal well around your teeth after orthodontic treatment is completed.  The second year is as a precaution as you get used to wearing your removable removable retainer.  For teens who are less likely to be compliant with their removable retainers, we generally leave the fixed or bonded retainers in for longer (until after university), once they can be trusted to wear their removable retainers nightly.

How long should I wer my removable retainer?

At Home town orthodontics we always give all our patients a removable retainer to wear over top of their bonded or fixed retainers.  These retainers should be worn nightly the first year.  After a year, we recommend skipping a night per year that you are out of treatment until you are wearing them at least once per week at night.  This means that the second year you will be wearing them every other night, the third, every third night and so and and so forth.

If however the retainer seems tight, you would wear it more often.  Remember retention is for life!  You will have to maintain the position of your teeth by wearing a retainer at least 1-2 times per week at night.  This is because teeth will always shift over time and the more crowding you had prior to orthodontic treatment, the higher the tendency of the teeth to move.

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