Wearing a retainer is a very important phase of total orthodontic treatment. The teeth are very loose after the braces come off and they need time to “firm up” in the bone before they are stable.
Retention is for life. Teeth move as part of normal use and the retainer is the only “template” of your straight smile. If you lose or break your retainer, call our office immediately to have it repaired or replaced.
First 4-6 Months
Wear the retainer all the time 24/7. Take it out only to eat and brush. This is an extremely critical time to allow the body to get used to the teeth in their new position.
After 6 Months
After you’ve been wearing a retainer full-time for the first 4-6 months, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to check your progress. Usually at this time, you will be able to reduce retainer wear to night-time only. This depends on two factors: tooth movement and comfort. If your retainer becomes tight or you notice tooth movement, you’ll need to increase wear time until your teeth have moved back or your retainer becomes comfortable again. In most cases, you will be wearing your retainer at night for only about six months.
In 1 Year
After one year, you can begin to taper down your retainer wear. This is a way to test your teeth and body getting used to your beautiful new smile. Begin to take a night off each week and test the fit of your retainer and movement of your teeth.
- If the retainer feels tight when you wear it at night, you’re not ready to take that night off yet. Continue wearing the retainer every night.
- Over time, if the retainer begins to feel passive (not tight) when inserting it, you may start to take more time off. The timing is different for every single patient.
- As long as your retainer inserts smoothly (without resistance), you can keep with a schedule that works for you. You want to eventually wear your retainer as little as possible so your teeth don’t move and they still feel comfortable.
- However, if it feels tight or has resistance, you must wear it several nights per week. Retainers are for life. They don’t need to be worn 24/7 forever, but they should always fit and be used as a means to check on them regularly. If you don’t, your teeth will shift back to their original position over time.